Natural Hazards

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 167–185 | Cite as

Adequacy of satellite derived rainfall data for stream flow modeling

  • Guleid Artan
  • Hussein Gadain
  • Jodie L. Smith
  • Kwabena Asante
  • Christina J. Bandaragoda
  • James P. Verdin
Original Paper


Floods are the most common and widespread climate-related hazard on Earth. Flood forecasting can reduce the death toll associated with floods. Satellites offer effective and economical means for calculating areal rainfall estimates in sparsely gauged regions. However, satellite-based rainfall estimates have had limited use in flood forecasting and hydrologic stream flow modeling because the rainfall estimates were considered to be unreliable. In this study we present the calibration and validation results from a spatially distributed hydrologic model driven by daily satellite-based estimates of rainfall for sub-basins of the Nile and Mekong Rivers. The results demonstrate the usefulness of remotely sensed precipitation data for hydrologic modeling when the hydrologic model is calibrated with such data. However, the remotely sensed rainfall estimates cannot be used confidently with hydrologic models that are calibrated with rain gauge measured rainfall, unless the model is recalibrated.


Flood forecasting Satellite-based rainfall estimates Remotely sensed rainfall Hydrologic modeling Calibration Validation Nile River Mekong River 



Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-B


Cold cloud duration


Soil Conservation Service Curve Number


Climate Prediction Center


Digital elevation model


Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science


Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations


Famine Early Warning System


Global Data Assimilation System


Geospatial Stream Flow Model


Geographical Information System


Gauge-observed rainfall estimates


Global Telecommunications System


Inverse distance weighted interpolation method


Geostationary thermal infrared


Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone


Multiobjective Shuffled Complex Evolution Metropolis algorithm


Mekong River Commission


Nash-Sutcliffe Coefficient of Efficiency


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


Potential evapotranspiration


Passive microwave


Root mean square error


Satellite-based rainfall estimates


Special Sensor Microwave/Imager


U.S. Geological Survey


U.S. Agency for International Development


World Meteorological Organization



The financial support of the USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank the Mekong River Commission for providing the Nam Ou and Se Done basins streamflow and rainfall data. Thanks are extended to two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions that contributed to improving the originally submitted version.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guleid Artan
    • 1
  • Hussein Gadain
    • 2
  • Jodie L. Smith
    • 1
  • Kwabena Asante
    • 1
  • Christina J. Bandaragoda
    • 3
  • James P. Verdin
    • 4
  1. 1.Early Warning and Environmental MonitoringSAIC Contractor to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Center for Earth Resources Observation and ScienceSioux FallsUSA
  2. 2.Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD)NairobiKenya
  3. 3.Utah Water Research LaboratoryUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  4. 4.Early Warning and Environmental MonitoringU.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Center for Earth Resources Observation and ScienceSioux FallsUSA

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