Climate Dynamics

, Volume 30, Issue 2–3, pp 133–144 | Cite as

Influence of similarity measures on the performance of the analog method for downscaling daily precipitation

  • C. MatullaEmail author
  • X. Zhang
  • X. L. Wang
  • J. Wang
  • E. Zorita
  • S. Wagner
  • H. von Storch


This study examines the performance of the analog method for downscaling daily precipitation. The evaluation is performed for (1) a number of similarity measures for searching analogs, (2) various ways to include the past atmospheric evolution, and (3) different truncations in EOF space. It is carried out for two regions with complex topographic structures, and with distinct climatic characteristics, namely, California’s Central Valley (together with the Sierra Nevada) and the European Alps. NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data are used to represent the large scale state of the atmosphere over the regions. The assessment is based on simulating daily precipitation for 103 stations for the month of January, for the years 1950–2004 in the California region, and for 70 stations in the European Alps (January 1948–2004). Generally, simulated precipitation is in better agreement with observations in the California region than in the European Alps. Similarity measures such as the Euclidean norm, the sum of absolute differences and the angle between two atmospheric states perform better than measures which introduce additional weightings to principal components (e.g., the Mahalanobis distance). The best choice seems dependent upon the target variable. Lengths of wet spells, for instance, are best simulated by using the angular similarity measure. Overall, the Euclidean norm performs satisfactorily in most cases and hence is a reasonable first choice, whereas the use of Mahalanobis distance is less advisable. The performance of the analog method improves by including large-scale information for bygone days, particularly, for the simulation of wet and dry spells. Optimal performance is obtained when about 85–90% of the total predictor variability is retained.


Similarity Measure Empirical Orthogonal Function Daily Precipitation Analog Method Random Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by a Visiting Fellowship to Canadian Government Laboratories awarded to C. Matulla through NSERC. J. Wang was supported by CFCAS. We are thankful to H. Kuhn who has enabled us to a trouble free processing of our calculations, to E. Watson, V. Kharin and D. Bray for stimulating suggestions and comments on this study. Furthermore we are grateful to two anonymous reviewers who helped to strenghten the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Matulla
    • 1
    Email author
  • X. Zhang
    • 1
  • X. L. Wang
    • 1
  • J. Wang
    • 1
  • E. Zorita
    • 2
  • S. Wagner
    • 2
  • H. von Storch
    • 2
  1. 1.Climate Research DivisionEnvironment CanadaTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Coastal Research, GKSSGeesthachtGermany

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