Accuracy evaluation of ClimGen weather generator and daily to hourly disaggregation methods in tropical conditions

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Theoretical and Applied Climatology


Daily and sub-daily weather data are often required for hydrological and environmental modeling. Various weather generator programs have been used to generate synthetic climate data where observed climate data are limited. In this study, a weather data generator, ClimGen, was evaluated for generating information on daily precipitation, temperature, and wind speed at four tropical watersheds located in Hawai'i, USA. We also evaluated different daily to sub-daily weather data disaggregation methods for precipitation, air temperature, dew point temperature, and wind speed at Mākaha watershed. The hydrologic significance values of the different disaggregation methods were evaluated using Distributed Hydrology Soil Vegetation Model. MuDRain and diurnal method performed well over uniform distribution in disaggregating daily precipitation. However, the diurnal method is more consistent if accurate estimates of hourly precipitation intensities are desired. All of the air temperature disaggregation methods performed reasonably well, but goodness-of-fit statistics were slightly better for sine curve model with 2 h lag. Cosine model performed better than random model in disaggregating daily wind speed. The largest differences in annual water balance were related to wind speed followed by precipitation and dew point temperature. Simulated hourly streamflow, evapotranspiration, and groundwater recharge were less sensitive to the method of disaggregating daily air temperature. ClimGen performed well in generating the minimum and maximum temperature and wind speed. However, for precipitation, it clearly underestimated the number of extreme rainfall events with an intensity of >100 mm/day in all four locations. ClimGen was unable to replicate the distribution of observed precipitation at three locations (Honolulu, Kahului, and Hilo). ClimGen was able to reproduce the distributions of observed minimum temperature at Kahului and wind speed at Kahului and Hilo. Although the weather data generation and disaggregation methods were concentrated in a few Hawaiian watersheds, the results presented can be used to similar mountainous location settings, as well as any specific locations aimed at furthering the site-specific performance evaluation of these tested models. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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