Comparison of rainfall interpolation methods in a mountainous region of a tropical island

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Journal of Hydrologic Engineering


A total of 21 gauges across the mountainous leeward portion of the island of O'ahu, Hawai'i, were used to compare rainfall interpolation methods and assess rainfall spatial variability over a 34-month monitoring period from 2005 to 2008. Traditional and geostatistical interpolation methods, including Thiessen polygon, inverse distance weighting (IDW), linear regression, ordinary kriging (OK), and simple kriging with varying local means (SKlm), were used to estimate wet and dry season rainfall. The linear regression and SKlm methods were used to incorporate two types of exhaustive secondary information: (1) elevation extracted from a digital elevation model (DEM), and (2) distance to a regional rainfall maximum. The Thiessen method produced the highest error, whereas OK produced the lowest error in all but one period. The OK method produced more accurate predictions than linear regression of rainfall against elevation when the correlation between rainfall and elevation is moderate (R<0.82). The SKlm method produced lower error than linear regression and IDW methods in all periods. Comparison of the OK interpolation map with gridded isohyet data indicate that the areas of greatest rainfall deficit were confined to the mountainous region of west O'ahu. © 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers.

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