Rainfall in an experimental watershed: a comparison between observed and TRMM 3B42V7 dataset
- 1Federal University of Paraíba, Av. Cap. João Freire, 620, CEP: 58.041-060 - João Pessoa, PB, Brazil
- 2Department of Hydraulics and Sanitary Engineering, São Carlos School of Engineering, University of São Paulo, Trabalhador São Carlense Av., 400, Arnold Schmidt, 13566-590, São Carlos, SP, Brazil
Keywords: rainfall, yearly data, monthly data, experimental watershed, TRMM data
Abstract. In 2003, a network for hydrology of the semiarid region (REHISA in Portuguese) was created in Brazil. Since then, experimental watersheds in this region has been providing hydrometeorological data collected in automatic stations. However, the spatial distribution of these gauges might be insufficient to thoroughly understand the hydrological processes occurring in the area. Remotely sensed hydrological variables presents a possible way to overcome such limitations as long as these estimates prove to have enough accuracy. This paper compares the monitored yearly and monthly rainfall in the Guaraíra experimental watershed with data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B42 Version-7 product. The study area has a drainage area of 5.84 km² and is located in the coastal region of Paraíba State, where the mean annual rainfall is 1,700 mm. Two automatic stations provided rainfall data from 2004 to 2011 to assess the satellite estimates in annual and monthly basis. TRMM 3B42V7 performance was evaluated based on graphical analysis. In the annual analysis, relative error ranged from 3 to -51%, however due to the monthly variation, such errors seemed to be insufficient to draw any conclusion, regarding the monthly results. For instance, when the relative error was 3% (difference of 48.3 mm for year 2004), the monthly analysis showed that this was due to a compensation occurred during the year, this is, a month for which rainfall was significantly underestimated by TRMM was compensated by another one when the satellite rainfall was overestimated. On the opposite, in 2007 (relative error 51%, 855 mm of difference), the monthly data analysis showed that just 4 months presented observed data overestimation, but it was enough to result in such annual overestimation. The monthly analysis showed that 29% of the months presented difference between observed rainfall and TRMM data greater than 70 mm and less than 386 mm, which can be considered a relevant error. 72.4% of these cases (monthly analyses) occurred in years in which the annual rainfall were within the ordinary mean (from 1,205 to 1,760 mm/year). Another important result is the underestimation cases were concentrated on the second part of the rainy period. Thus, conclusions points out that TRMM estimates can provide useful information on annual basis, but users should be aware concerning the underestimation, specially on monthly basis for the studied region.