Comparison and assessment of spatial downscaling methods for enhancing the accuracy of satellite-based precipitation over Lake Urmia Basin

Ali Karbalaye Ghorbanpour, Tim Hessels, Sanaz Moghim, Abbas Afshar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Estimating precipitation at high spatial-temporal resolution is vital in manifold hydrological, meteorological and water management applications, especially over areas with un-gauged networks and regions where water resources are on the wane. This study aims to evaluate five downscaling methods to determine the accuracy and efficiency of which on generating high-resolution precipitation data at annual and monthly scales. To establish precipitation-Land surface characteristics relationship, environmental factors, including Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Land Surface Temperature (LST) and Digital Elevation Model (DEM), were considered as proxies in the spatial downscaling procedure. The downscaling algorithms, namely support vector machine (SVM), random forest (RF), geographically weighted regression (GWR), multiple linear regression (MLR) and exponential regression (ER), were implemented to downscale the version 7 of TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) precipitation (3B43 V7 product) over Lake Urmia Basin (LUB) from 0.25° to 1 km spatial resolution. The downscaled precipitation data was validated against observations from meteorological stations. Monthly fractions derived from TRMM 3B43 were used to disaggregate 1 km annual precipitation to 1 km monthly precipitation. Furthermore, the best method was selected for calibration based on Geographical Difference Analysis (GDA) to assess the effectiveness of the calibration as a viable option. The results indicate that SVM not only outperforms the other methods, but also has good agreements with in-situ measurements compared to the original TRMM. The results confirm that inclusion of LST and geographic information along with NDVI can improve the downscaling performance. Downscaling and GDA calibration significantly improve the accuracy of TRMM 3B43 product at both spatial and temporal resolution and should be considered as an essential step in calibration of TRMM precipitation. Calibration at monthly scale yields slightly better results than calibration at annual scale and then disaggregating into monthly maps in terms of accuracy assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126055
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Calibration
  • Downscaling
  • Lake Urmia Basin
  • Machine learning
  • TRMM


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