The Meghna River basin is a transboundary basin that lies in Bangladesh (~40%) and India (~60%). Due to its terrain structure, the Bangladesh portion of the basin experiences frequent floods that cause severe human and economic losses. Bangladesh, as the downstream nation in the basin, faces challenges in receiving hydro-meteorological and water use data from India for effective water resource management. To address such issue, satellite rainfall products are recognized as an alternative. However, they are affected by biases and, thus, must be calibrated and verified using ground observations. This research compares the performance of four widely available gauge-adjusted satellite rainfall products (GSRPs) against ground rainfall observations in the Meghna basin within Bangladesh. Further biases in the GSRPs are then identified. The GSRPs have both similarities and differences in terms of producing biases. To maximize the usage of the GSRPs and to further improve their accuracy, several bias correction and merging techniques are applied to correct them. Correction factors and merging weights are calculated at the local gauge stations and are spatially distributed by adopting an interpolation method to improve the GSRPs, both inside and outside Bangladesh. Of the four bias correction methods, modified linear correction (MLC) has performed better, and partially removed the GSRPs’ systematic biases. In addition, of the three merging techniques, inverse error-variance weighting (IEVW) has provided better results than the individual GSRPs and removed significantly more biases than the MLC correction method for three of the five validation stations, whereas the two other stations that experienced heavy rainfall events, showed better results for the MLC method. Hence, the combined use of IEVW merging and MLC correction is explored. The combined method has provided the best results, thus creating an improved dataset. The applicability of this dataset is then investigated using a hydrological model to simulated streamflows at two critical locations. The results show that the dataset reproduces the hydrological responses of the basin well, as compared with the observed streamflows. Together, these results indicate that the improved dataset can overcome the limitations of poor data availability in the basin and can serve as a reference rainfall dataset for wide range of applications (e.g., flood modelling and forecasting, irrigation planning, damage and risk assessment, and climate change adaptation planning). In addition, the proposed methodology of creating a reference rainfall dataset based on the GSRPs could also be applicable to other poorly-gauged and inaccessible transboundary river basins, thus providing reliable rainfall information and effective water resource management for sustainable development.
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