Stochastic modelling of spatially and temporally consistent daily precipitation time-series over complex topography

D. E. Keller, A. M. Fischer, C. Frei, M. A. Liniger, C. Appenzeller, R. Knutti
2014 Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions  
Many climate impact assessments over topographically complex terrain require high-resolution precipitation time-series that have a spatio-temporal correlation structure consistent with observations. This consistency is essential for spatially distributed modelling of processes with non-linear responses to precipitation input (e.g. soil water and river runoff modelling). In this regard, weather generators (WGs) designed and calibrated for multiple sites are an appealing technique to
more » ... que to stochastically simulate time-series that approximate the observed temporal and spatial dependencies. In this study, we present a stochastic multi-site precipitation generator and validate it over the hydrological catchment <i>Thur</i> in the Swiss Alps. The model consists of several Richardson-type WGs that are run with correlated random number streams reflecting the observed correlation structure among all possible station pairs. A first-order two-state Markov process simulates intermittence of daily precipitation, while precipitation amounts are simulated from a mixture model of two exponential distributions. The model is calibrated separately for each month over the time-period 1961–2011. <br><br> The WG is skilful at individual sites in representing the annual cycle of the precipitation statistics, such as mean wet day frequency and intensity as well as monthly precipitation sums. It reproduces realistically the multi-day statistics such as the frequencies of dry and wet spell lengths and precipitation sums over consecutive wet days. Substantial added value is demonstrated in simulating daily areal precipitation sums in comparison to multiple WGs that lack the spatial dependency in the stochastic process: the multi-site WG is capable to capture about 95% of the observed variability in daily area sums, while the summed time-series from multiple single-site WGs only explains about 13%. Limitation of the WG have been detected in reproducing observed variability from year to year, a component that has not been considered in the WG calibration. Given the obtained performance, the presented stochastic model is expected to be a useful tool to re-sample the observed record and valuable to be used as a statistical downscaling method in a climate change context.
doi:10.5194/hessd-11-8737-2014 fatcat:cmeewa4ppvfqdjlkfykmqityma