DOI: 10.3390/rs16010079 ISSN: 2072-4292

Can the Accuracy of Fine-Resolution Precipitation Products Be Assessed from the Surrounding Water Balance and Drought Chain (WBDC) in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau?

Rui Li, Jiancheng Shi, Jinmei Pan, Nana Yan, Tianjie Zhao, Qingtao Zhang, Yu Wang
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

The Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP), which has a unique and severe environment, suffers from the absence of rainfall gauges in western arid land. Using different precipitation products in this region would easily lead to contradictory results. To evaluate nine fine-resolution precipitation products in the QTP, we propose a “down to top” methodology, based on water balance and drought chain, by forecasting two accuracy assessment indices—multi-year precipitation bias and precipitation correlation. We assessed the biases of all products in the Jinsha–Yalong, Yellow, Heihe, Yangtze, Yarlung Zangbo catchments and interior drainage areas. And we assessed gauge-based correlation of precipitation products, based on the correlations between precipitation product-based effective drought index (EDI), Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)-based soil moisture anomaly, and the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS)-based normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) anomaly (R = 0.712, R = 0.36, and R = 0.785, respectively) for cross-sectional rainfall observations on the Tibetan Plateau in 2018. The results showed that ERA5-Land and IMERG merged precipitation dataset (EIMD) can efficiently close the water budget at the catchment scale. Moreover, the EIMD-based EDI exhibited the best performance in correlation with both the SMAP-based soil moisture anomaly and MODIS-based NDVI anomaly for the three main herbaceous species areas—Kobresia pygmaea meadow, Stipa purpurea steppe, and Carex moorcroftii steppe. Overall, we find that EIMD is the most accurate among the nine products. The annual average precipitation (2001–2018) was determined to be 568.16 mm in the QTP. Our assessment methodology has a remote sensing basis with low cost and can be used for other arid lands in the future.

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