Easy-to-use spatial random-forest-based downscaling-calibration method for producing precipitation data with high resolution and high accuracy

Chen, Chuanfa; Hu, Baojian; Li, Yanyan

Precipitation data with high resolution and high accuracy are significantly important in numerous hydrological applications. To enhance the spatial resolution and accuracy of satellite-based precipitation products, an easy-to-use downscaling-calibration method based on a spatial random forest (SRF-DC) is proposed in this study, where the spatial autocorrelation of precipitation measurements between neighboring locations is considered. SRF-DC consists of two main stages. First, the satellite-based precipitation is downscaled by the SRF with the incorporation of high-resolution variables including latitude, longitude, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), digital elevation model (DEM), terrain slope, aspect, relief and land surface temperatures. Then, the downscaled precipitation is calibrated by the SRF with rain gauge observations and the aforementioned high-resolution variables. The monthly Integrated MultisatellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) over Sichuan Province, China, from 2015 to 2019 was processed using SRF-DC, and its results were compared with those of classical methods including geographically weighted regression (GWR), artificial neural network (ANN), random forest (RF), kriging interpolation only on gauge measurements, bilinear interpolation-based downscaling and then SRF-based calibration (Bi-SRF), and SRF-based downscaling and then geographical difference analysis (GDA)-based calibration (SRF-GDA). Comparative analyses with respect to root mean square error (RMSE), mean absolute error (MAE) and correlation coefficient (CC) demonstrate that (1) SRF-DC outperforms the classical methods as well as the original IMERG; (2) the monthly based SRF estimation is slightly more accurate than the annually based SRF fraction disaggregation method; (3) SRF-based downscaling and calibration perform better than bilinear downscaling (Bi-SRF) and GDA-based calibration (SRF-GDA); (4) kriging is more accurate than GWR and ANN, whereas its precipitation map loses detailed spatial precipitation patterns; and (5) based on the variable-importance rank of the RF, the precipitation interpolated by kriging on the rain gauge measurements is the most important variable, indicating the significance of incorporating spatial autocorrelation for precipitation estimation.

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Chen, Chuanfa / Hu, Baojian / Li, Yanyan: Easy-to-use spatial random-forest-based downscaling-calibration method for producing precipitation data with high resolution and high accuracy. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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