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Geostatistical analysis of precipitation in the island of Crete (Greece) based on a sparse monitoring network

Agou, Vasiliki D., Varouchakis, Emmanouil A., Hristopulos, Dionissios T.
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.6 pp. 353
General Circulation Models, agricultural land, anisotropy, atmospheric precipitation, coasts, desertification, geostatistics, kriging, monitoring, prediction, risk, topography, uncertainty, variance, Crete, Greece, Mediterranean region
Based on the predictions of General Circulation Models, significant reduction of precipitation in Mediterranean areas is a possible scenario. Hence, better understanding of the spatial and temporal precipitation patterns is necessary in order to quantify desertification risks and design suitable mitigation measures. This study uses monthly precipitation measurements from a sparse network of 54 monitoring stations on the Mediterranean island of Crete (Greece). The study period extends from 1948 to 2012. The data reveal strong correlations between the western and eastern parts of the island. However, the average annual precipitation in the West is about 450 mm higher than that in the East. We construct a spatial model of average annual precipitation in Crete. The model involves a topographic trend and residuals with anisotropic spatial correlations which are fitted with a recently developed variogram function. We use regression kriging to generate annual precipitation maps and to identify locations of high estimation uncertainty. To our knowledge, this is the most detailed spatial analysis of precipitation in Crete to date. We present the analysis in detail for the year 1971. The trend accounts for ≈ 74% of the total variance. The highest precipitation estimate is 2331 mm in the West and 1781 mm in the East. The highest relative estimation uncertainty (≈ 20%) is observed along the southeastern coastline of the island, where the lowest values of annual precipitation are observed. This region includes one of the major agricultural areas of the island. The same overall patterns are found for other years in the study. Finally, we find no statistical evidence for a decrease in the global (over the entire island) annual precipitation during the study period.