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Water 2017, 9(11), 838;

Performance Assessment of Spatial Interpolation of Precipitation for Hydrological Process Simulation in the Three Gorges Basin

School of Resource and Environmental Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China
Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2093, USA
State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
School of Water Resources and Hydropower, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 August 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 27 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
PDF [3828 KB, uploaded 1 November 2017]


Accurate assessment of spatial and temporal precipitation is crucial for simulating hydrological processes in basins, but is challenging due to insufficient rain gauges. Our study aims to analyze different precipitation interpolation schemes and their performances in runoff simulation during light and heavy rain periods. In particular, combinations of different interpolation estimates are explored and their performances in runoff simulation are discussed. The study was carried out in the Pengxi River basin of the Three Gorges Basin. Precipitation data from 16 rain gauges were interpolated using the Thiessen Polygon (TP), Inverse Distance Weighted (IDW), and Co-Kriging (CK) methods. Results showed that streamflow predictions employing CK inputs demonstrated the best performance in the whole process, in terms of the Nash–Sutcliffe Coefficient (NSE), the coefficient of determination (R2), and the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) indices. The TP, IDW, and CK methods showed good performance in the heavy rain period but poor performance in the light rain period compared with the default method (least sophisticated nearest neighbor technique) in Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Furthermore, the correlation between the dynamic weight of one method and its performance during runoff simulation followed a parabolic function. The combination of CK and TP achieved a better performance in decreasing the largest and lowest absolute errors compared to any single method, but the IDW method outperformed all methods in terms of the median absolute error. However, it is clear from our findings that interpolation methods should be chosen depending on the amount of precipitation, adaptability of the method, and accuracy of the estimate in different rain periods. View Full-Text
Keywords: precipitation interpolation; runoff simulation; SWAT; the Three Gorges Basin precipitation interpolation; runoff simulation; SWAT; the Three Gorges Basin

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Cheng, M.; Wang, Y.; Engel, B.; Zhang, W.; Peng, H.; Chen, X.; Xia, H. Performance Assessment of Spatial Interpolation of Precipitation for Hydrological Process Simulation in the Three Gorges Basin. Water 2017, 9, 838.

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