Articles | Volume 17, issue 7
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 2905–2915, 2013
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 2905–2915, 2013

Research article 24 Jul 2013

Research article | 24 Jul 2013

Experiences in using the TMPA-3B42R satellite data to complement rain gauge measurements in the Ecuadorian coastal foothills

M. Arias-Hidalgo1,2,3, B. Bhattacharya1, A. E. Mynett1,2, and A. van Griensven1,4 M. Arias-Hidalgo et al.
  • 1UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, P.O. Box 3015, 2601DA Delft, the Netherlands
  • 2Delft University of Technology, Faculty CiTG, P.O. Box 5048, 2600GA Delft, the Netherlands
  • 3Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, ESPOL-FICT, Perimetral km. 30.5, EC090112, Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • 4Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Abstract. At present, new technologies are becoming available to extend the coverage of conventional meteorological datasets. An example is the TMPA-3B42R dataset (research – v6). The usefulness of this satellite rainfall product has been investigated in the hydrological modeling of the Vinces River catchment (Ecuadorian lowlands). The initial TMPA-3B42R information exhibited some features of the precipitation spatial pattern (e.g., decreasing southwards and westwards). It showed a remarkable bias compared to the ground-based rainfall values. Several time scales (annual, seasonal, monthly, etc.) were considered for bias correction. High correlations between the TMPA-3B42R and the rain gauge data were still found for the monthly resolution, and accordingly a bias correction at that level was performed. Bias correction factors were calculated, and, adopting a simple procedure, they were spatially distributed to enhance the satellite data. By means of rain gauge hyetographs, the bias-corrected monthly TMPA-3B42R data were disaggregated to daily resolution. These synthetic time series were inserted in a hydrological model to complement the available rain gauge data to assess the model performance. The results were quite comparable with those using only the rain gauge data. Although the model outcomes did not improve remarkably, the contribution of this experimental methodology was that, despite a high bias, the satellite rainfall data could still be corrected for use in rainfall-runoff modeling at catchment and daily level. In absence of rain gauge data, the approach may have the potential to provide useful data at scales larger than the present modeling resolution (e.g., monthly/basin).