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Dry and wet spell variability during monsoon in gauge-based gridded daily precipitation datasets over India

Chaudhary, Shushobhit, Dhanya, C.T., Vinnarasi, R.
Journal of hydrology 2017 v.546 pp. 204-218
climate models, data collection, drought, monsoon season, rain, rain gauges, rain intensity, water management, water resources, India
Accurate estimates of monsoonal rainfall at daily time scales are essential inputs for various water-related sectors such as drought and flood forecasting, crop and water management for agriculture. To serve this purpose, a variety of rainfall products, especially the gauge based products which serve as the ground-truth for other derived rainfall products, are available over India. In this study, three different daily gauge based gridded rainfall datasets, namely Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Asian Precipitation Highly Resolved Observational Data Integration Towards Evaluation of water resources (APHRODITE) and Climate Prediction Center (CPC) unified rain gauge data are compared over India for the monsoon season of 1979–2007. The comparison among the datasets is based on the duration, frequency and intensity of three different spell characteristics, namely dry, wet and extreme wet spells, and their associated trends. Wet (dry) spells are defined as the consecutive period of wet (dry) days, where a wet (dry) day is defined using rainfall threshold of 1mm. Extreme wet spells are defined using the 90th percentile of rainfall above the depth of wet day. All datasets capture the spatial distribution of precipitation characteristics, albeit with pronounced differences at heavy rainfall regions. CPC and IMD show a close match in spell characteristics while APHRODITE significantly deviates. APHRODITE shows increased intensity of rainfall during dry periods, leading to over-estimation of wet days and under-estimation of dry days. Northern extreme of India (Jammu and Kashmir) show major differences in replicating the spell characteristics. Trend patterns are also not consistent between the three datasets. The present study will provide information on the spatio-temporal pattern of dry, wet and extreme wet spell characteristics over India and aid in selecting appropriate datasets for studying the Indian monsoon rainfall depending on their scope and application of research.