Articles | Volume 15, issue 8
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 2649–2663, 2011
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 2649–2663, 2011

Research article 25 Aug 2011

Research article | 25 Aug 2011

Evaluation of TRMM Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) performance in the Central Andes region and its dependency on spatial and temporal resolution

M. L. M. Scheel1,2,3, M. Rohrer2, Ch. Huggel1, D. Santos Villar4, E. Silvestre5, and G. J. Huffman6 M. L. M. Scheel et al.
  • 1University of Zurich, Department of Geography, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Meteodat GmbH, Zurich, Technoparkstrasse 1, Switzerland
  • 3Humboldt University Berlin, Department of Geography, Berlin, Germany
  • 4Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima, Peru
  • 5SENAMHI, Meteorological and Hydrological Service of Peru, Lima, Peru
  • 6Science Systems and Applications, Inc., and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA

Abstract. Climate time series are of major importance for base line studies for climate change impact and adaptation projects. However, for instance, in mountain regions and in developing countries there exist significant gaps in ground based climate records in space and time. Specifically, in the Peruvian Andes spatially and temporally coherent precipitation information is a prerequisite for ongoing climate change adaptation projects in the fields of water resources, disasters and food security. The present work aims at evaluating the ability of Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) to estimate precipitation rates at daily 0.25° × 0.25° scale in the Central Andes and the dependency of the estimate performance on changing spatial and temporal resolution. Comparison of the TMPA product with gauge measurements in the regions of Cuzco, Peru and La Paz, Bolivia were carried out and analysed statistically. Large biases are identified in both investigation areas in the estimation of daily precipitation amounts. The occurrence of strong precipitation events was well assessed, but their intensities were underestimated. TMPA estimates for La Paz show high false alarm ratio.

The dependency of the TMPA estimate quality with changing resolution was analysed by comparisons of 1-, 7-, 15- and 30-day sums for Cuzco, Peru. The correlation of TMPA estimates with ground data increases strongly and almost linearly with temporal aggregation. The spatial aggregation to 0.5°, 0.75° and 1° grid box averaged precipitation and its comparison to gauge data of the same areas revealed no significant change in correlation coefficients and estimate performance.

In order to profit from the TMPA combination product on a daily basis, a procedure to blend it with daily precipitation gauge measurements is proposed.

Different sources of errors and uncertainties introduced by the sensors, sensor-specific algorithm aspects and the TMPA processing scheme are discussed. This study reveals the possibilities and restrictions of the use of TMPA estimates in the Central Andes and should assist other researchers in the choice of the best resolution-accuracy relationship according to requirements of their applications.