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Effect of rain gauge density over the accuracy of rainfall: a case study over Bangalore, India

Anoop Kumar Mishra

Author Affiliations

Research Centre for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, 128 Academia Road, Section 2, Nankang, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC 11529

SpringerPlus 2013, 2:311  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-311

Published: 11 July 2013


Rainfall is an extremely variable parameter in both space and time. Rain gauge density is very crucial in order to quantify the rainfall amount over a region. The level of rainfall accuracy is highly dependent on density and distribution of rain gauge stations over a region. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have installed a number of Automatic Weather Station (AWS) rain gauges over Indian region to study rainfall. In this paper, the effect of rain gauge density over daily accumulated rainfall is analyzed using ISRO AWS gauge observations. A region of 50 km × 50 km box over southern part of Indian region (Bangalore) with good density of rain gauges is identified for this purpose. Rain gauge numbers are varied from 1–8 in 50 km box to study the variation in the daily accumulated rainfall. Rainfall rates from the neighbouring stations are also compared in this study. Change in the rainfall as a function of gauge spacing is studied. Use of gauge calibrated satellite observations to fill the gauge station value is also studied. It is found that correlation coefficients (CC) decrease from 82% to 21% as gauge spacing increases from 5 km to 40 km while root mean square error (RMSE) increases from 8.29 mm to 51.27 mm with increase in gauge spacing from 5 km to 40 km. Considering 8 rain gauges as a standard representative of rainfall over the region, absolute error increases from 15% to 64% as gauge numbers are decreased from 7 to 1. Small errors are reported while considering 4 to 7 rain gauges to represent 50 km area. However, reduction to 3 or less rain gauges resulted in significant error. It is also observed that use of gauge calibrated satellite observations significantly improved the rainfall estimation over the region with very few rain gauge observations.

Precipitation; Rain gauge; Remote sensing; Satellite; Hydrology