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Evaluation and application of multi-source satellite rainfall product CHIRPS to assess spatio-temporal rainfall variability on data-sparse western margins of Ethiopian highlands

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

The spatio-temporal characteristic of rainfall in the Beles Basin of Ethiopia is poorly understood, mainly due to lack of data. With recent advances in remote sensing, satellite derived rainfall products have become alternative sources of rainfall data for such poorly gauged areas. The objectives of this study were: (i) to evaluate a multi-source rainfall product (Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Stations: CHIRPS) for the Beles Basin using gauge measurements and (ii) to assess the spatial and temporal variability of rainfall across the basin using validated CHIRPS data for the period 1981-2017. Categorical and continuous validation statistics were used to evaluate the performance, and time-space variability of rainfall was analyzed using GIS operations and statistical methods. Results showed a slight overestimation of rainfall occurrence by CHIRPS for the lowland region and underestimation for the highland region. CHIRPS underestimated the proportion of light daily rainfall events and overestimated the proportion of high intensity daily rainfall events. CHIRPS rainfall amount estimates were better in highland regions than in lowland regions, and became more accurate as the duration of the integration time increases from days to months. The annual spatio-temporal analysis result using CHIRPS revealed: a mean annual rainfall of the basin is 1490 mm (1050-2090 mm), a 50 mm increase of mean annual rainfall per 100 m elevation rise, periodical and persistent drought occurrence every 8 to 10 years, a significant increasing trend of rainfall (~5 mm year-1), high rainfall variability observed at the lowland and drier parts of the basin and high coefficient of variation of monthly rainfall in March and April (revealing occurrence of bimodal rainfall characteristics). This study shows that the performance of CHIRPS product can vary spatially within a small basin level, and CHIRPS can help for better decision making in poorly gauged areas by giving an option to understand the space-time variability of rainfall characteristics.

Journal: Remote Sensing
Issue: 22
Volume: 11
Publication year:2019
Keywords:Beles Basin, Orography, Rainfall variability, Remote sensing rainfall, Trend analysis, Electrical & electronic engineering