Focusing on water resources assessment in ungauged or sparse gauged areas, a comparative evaluation of areal precipitation was conducted by remote sensing data, limited gauged data, and a fusion of gauged data and remote sensing data based on machine learning. The artificial neural network (ANN) model was used to fuse the remote sensing precipitation and ground gauge precipitation. The correlation coefficient, root mean square deviation, relative deviation and consistency principle were used to evaluate the reliability of the remote sensing precipitation. The case study in the Qaidam Basin, northwest of China, shows that the precision of the original remote sensing precipitation product of Tropical Precipitation Measurement Satellite (TRMM)-3B42RT and TRMM-3B43 was 0.61, 72.25 mm, 36.51%, 27% and 0.70, 64.24 mm, 31.63%, 32%, respectively, comparing with gauged precipitation. The precision of corrected TRMM-3B42RT and TRMM-3B43 improved to 0.89, 37.51 mm, –0.08%, 41% and 0.91, 34.22 mm, 0.11%, 42%, respectively, which indicates that the data mining considering elevation, longitude and latitude as the main influencing factors of precipitation is efficient and effective. The evaluation of areal precipitation in the Qaidam Basin shows that the mean annual precipitation is 104.34 mm, 186.01 mm and 174.76 mm based on the gauge data, corrected TRMM-3B42RT and corrected TRMM-3B43. The results show many differences in the areal precipitation based on sparse gauge precipitation data and fusion remote sensing data.
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