Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
Research article
18 Jul 2011
Research article |  | 18 Jul 2011

Geostatistical interpolation of daily rainfall at catchment scale: the use of several variogram models in the Ourthe and Ambleve catchments, Belgium

S. Ly, C. Charles, and A. Degré

Abstract. Spatial interpolation of precipitation data is of great importance for hydrological modelling. Geostatistical methods (kriging) are widely applied in spatial interpolation from point measurement to continuous surfaces. The first step in kriging computation is the semi-variogram modelling which usually used only one variogram model for all-moment data. The objective of this paper was to develop different algorithms of spatial interpolation for daily rainfall on 1 km2 regular grids in the catchment area and to compare the results of geostatistical and deterministic approaches. This study leaned on 30-yr daily rainfall data of 70 raingages in the hilly landscape of the Ourthe and Ambleve catchments in Belgium (2908 km2). This area lies between 35 and 693 m in elevation and consists of river networks, which are tributaries of the Meuse River. For geostatistical algorithms, seven semi-variogram models (logarithmic, power, exponential, Gaussian, rational quadratic, spherical and penta-spherical) were fitted to daily sample semi-variogram on a daily basis. These seven variogram models were also adopted to avoid negative interpolated rainfall. The elevation, extracted from a digital elevation model, was incorporated into multivariate geostatistics. Seven validation raingages and cross validation were used to compare the interpolation performance of these algorithms applied to different densities of raingages. We found that between the seven variogram models used, the Gaussian model was the most frequently best fit. Using seven variogram models can avoid negative daily rainfall in ordinary kriging. The negative estimates of kriging were observed for convective more than stratiform rain. The performance of the different methods varied slightly according to the density of raingages, particularly between 8 and 70 raingages but it was much different for interpolation using 4 raingages. Spatial interpolation with the geostatistical and Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) algorithms outperformed considerably the interpolation with the Thiessen polygon, commonly used in various hydrological models. Integrating elevation into Kriging with an External Drift (KED) and Ordinary Cokriging (OCK) did not improve the interpolation accuracy for daily rainfall. Ordinary Kriging (ORK) and IDW were considered to be the best methods, as they provided smallest RMSE value for nearly all cases. Care should be taken in applying UNK and KED when interpolating daily rainfall with very few neighbourhood sample points. These recommendations complement the results reported in the literature. ORK, UNK and KED using only spherical model offered a slightly better result whereas OCK using seven variogram models achieved better result.