Studia Geophysica et Geodaetica

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 557–570

The relationship between altitude of meteorological stations and average monthly and annual precipitation

  • Markos Gouvas
  • Nikolaos Sakellariou
  • Fotios Xystrakis


The aim of this study was to prove that altitudinal variability of average monthly and annual precipitation is better summarised when the altitude observed within a radius of several kilometres around a meteorological station is taken into consideration, instead of the altitude of the station itself. The use of the variable Z′, which combines the altitude of the closest mountain with its distance from the station, is compared against the use of altitude alone in simple linear and multiple quadratic regression equations for the altitudinal interpolation of precipitation over Greece. The data-set comprised precipitation observations from 516 meteorological stations. The comparison between the two variables is discussed on the basis of the resulting determination coefficients (R2) and standard errors of estimate (S). For all seasons, except summer, it was found that the variable Z′ improves the predictive ability of the regression equations, thus showing its potential for further use in interpolation procedures.

Key words

altitude Greece precipitation regression analysis mountainous climates 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andreakos K., 1978. Climatic elements of 86 meteorological stations of the Hellenic network. Period 1930–1975. Studies of the Hellenic National Meteorological Service, Athens, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  2. Balafoutis Ch., 1977. Contribution to the Study of Climate in Macedonia and Thrace. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  3. Basist A., Bell G. and Meentmeyer V., 1994. Statistical relationships between topography and precipitation patterns. J. Clim., 7, 1305–1315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beek E.G., Stein A. and Janssen L.L.F., 1992. Spatial variability and interpolation of daily precipitation amount. Stochastic Hydrology and Hydraulics, 6, 209–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boltsis C., 1986. Contribution in the Study of Precipitation Equivalent of Water in the Region of Ipiros. Ph.D. Thesis, Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  6. Boudouris K., 1995. Hydrogeological Conditions of North Western Part of Achaía Prefecture, Greece. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Patras, Patras, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  7. Briggs P.R. and Cogley J.G., 1996. Topographic bias in mesoscale precipitation networks. J. Clim., 9, 205–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown D.P. and Comrie A.C., 2002. Spatial modeling of winter temperature and precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico, USA. Clim. Res., 22, 115–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapman L. and Thornes J.E., 2003. The use of geographical information systems in climatology and meteorology. Prog. Phys. Geogr., 27, 313–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Comrie A.C. and Glenn E.C., 1998. Principal components-based regionalization of precipitation regimes across the southwest United States and northern Mexico, with an application to monsoon precipitation variability. Clim. Res., 10, 201–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Critchfield H., 1983. General Climatology, 4th Edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  12. Dale V.H. and Rauscher H.M., 1994. Assessing impacts of climate change on forests: The state of biological modeling. Clim. Change, 28, 65–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Daly C., Gibson W., Taylor G., Johnson G. and Pasteris P., 2002. A knowledge-based approach to the statistical mapping of climate. Clim. Res., 22, 99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Daly C., Neilson R.P. and Phillips D.L., 1994. A statistical-topographic model for mapping climatological precipitation over mountainous terrain. J. Appl. Meteorol., 33, 140–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diodato N., 2005. The influence of topographic co-variables on the spatial variability of precipitation over small regions of complex terrain. Int. J. Climatol., 25, 351–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gomez J.D., Etchevers J.D., Monterroso A.I., Gay C., Campo J. and Martinez M., 2008. Spatial estimation of mean temperature and precipitation in areas of scarce meteorological information. Atmósfera, 21, 35–56.Google Scholar
  17. Gooddale C.L., Aber J.D. and Ollinger S.V., 1998. Mapping monthly precipitation, temperature and solar radiation for Ireland with polynomial regression and a digital elevation model. Clim. Res., 10, 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goovaerts P., 2000. Geostatistical approaches for incorporating elevation into the spatial interpolation of rainfall. J. Hydrol., 228, 113–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gouvas M. and Sakellariou N., 2004. Relation of the altitude of the meteorological stations to the average annual and monthly rainfall amount. Proceedings of 7th Pan-Hellenic (International) Conference of Meteorology, Climatology and Atmospheric Physics, Nicosia 28–30 September 2004, Vol. b: 765–771, ISBN: 9963-9160-1-3.Google Scholar
  20. Hartkamp A.D., de Buers K., Stein A. and White J.W., 1999. Interpolation Techniques for Climatic Variables. NRG-GIS Series 99-01, Mexico, D.F., CIMMYT ( Scholar
  21. Hevesi J.A., Istok J.D. and Flint A.L., 1992. Precipitation estimation in mountainous terrain using multivariate geostatistics. Part I: Structural analysis. J. Appl. Meteorol., 31, 661–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Johansson B. and Chen D., 2003. The influence of wind and topography on precipitation distribution in Sweden: Statistical analysis and modelling. Int. J. Climatol. 23, 1523–1535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Johnson G. and Hanson C., 1995. Topographic and atmospheric influences on precipitation variability over a mountainous watershed. J. Appl. Meteorol., 34, 68–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kandilis F., 1988. The Precipitation in “Sterea Hellas”. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Athens, Athens, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  25. Kotoulas D., 1986. Courses of General Hydrology and Hydraulics. Publication Service of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  26. Kyriakidis P.C., Kim J. and Miller N.L., 2001. Geostatistical mapping of precipitation from rain gauge data using atmospheric and terrain characteristics. J. Appl. Meteorol., 40, 1855–1877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lloyd C.D., 2005. Assessing the effect of integrating elevation data into the estimation of monthly precipitation in Great Britain. J. Hydrol., 308, 128–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lolis C.J., Bartzokas A. and Metaxas D.A., 1999. Spatial covariability of the climatic parameters in the Greek area. Int. J. Climatol., 19, 185–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lull H.W. and Ellison L., 1950. Precipitation in relation to altitude in central Utah. Ecology, 31, 479–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maheras P., 1988. The synoptic weather types and objective delimitation of the winter period in Greece. Weather, 43, 40–45.Google Scholar
  31. Mariolopoulos E. and Karapiperis L., 1955. Rainfall in Greece. National Print-House, Athens, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  32. Markou-Iakovaki P. and Lioki-Livada-Tselepidaki I., 1975. Climatograms and Drought Index in the Greek Area. Publication Service of the Laboratory of Climatology, University of Athens, Athens (in Greek).Google Scholar
  33. Martínez-Cob A., 1996. Multivariate geostatistical analysis of evapotranspiration and precipitation in mountainous terrain. J. Hydrol., 174, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Morin G., Fortin J.P., Sochanska W. and Lardeau J.P., 1979. Use of principal component analysis to identify homogeneous precipitation stations for optimal interpolation. Water Resour. Res., 15, 1841–1850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Naoum S. and Tsanis I. K., 2004. A multiple linear regression GIS module using spatial variables to model orographic rainfall. J. Hydroinform., 6, 39–56.Google Scholar
  36. Nikolakis D., 1985. The Precipitation in Thessaly. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Athens, Athens, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  37. Ninyerola M., Pons X. and Roure J.M., 2000. A methodological approach of climatological modelling of air temperature and precipitation through GIS techniques. Int. J. Climatol., 20, 1823–1841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Oettli P. and Camberlin P., 2005. Influence of topography on monthly rainfall distribution over East Africa. Clim. Res., 28, 199–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pagonis K., 1998. Contribution in the Study of Precipitation in Peloponnese. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Athens, Athens, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  40. Pardo-Iguzquiza E., 1998. Comparison of geostatistical methods for estimating the areal average climatological rainfall mean using data on precipitation and topography. Int. J. Climatol., 18, 1031–1047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Roe G.H., 2005. Orographic precipitation. Annu. Rev. Earth. Planet. Sci., 33, 645–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rotunno R. and Houze R.A., 2007. Lessons on orographic precipitation from the Mesoscale Alpine Programme. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 133, 811–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Saghafian B. and Bondarabadi S.R., 2008. Validity of regional rainfall spatial distribution methods in mountainous areas. J. Hydrol. Eng., 13, 531–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith R.B. and Barstad I., 2004. A linear theory of orographic precipitation. J. Atmos. Sci., 61, 1377–1391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Soulis N., 1994. The Climate of Epirus. Ioannina, 216 pp. (self-published in Greek).Google Scholar
  46. Stathis D., 1998. Meteorological Features of Pindos from Hydrological Point of View. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece (in Greek).Google Scholar
  47. StatSoft Inc., 2007. STATISTICA (Data Analysis Software System), Version 8.0. Scholar
  48. Tolika K., Maheras P., Vafiadis M., Flocas H. and Arseni-Papadimitriou A., 2007. Simulation of seasonal precipitation and raindays over Greece: A statistical downscaling technique based on Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs). Int. J. Climatol., 27, 861–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wotling G., Bouvier C., Danloux J. and Fritsch J.M., 2000. Regionalization of extreme precipitation distribution using the principal components of the topographical environment. J. Hydrol., 233, 86–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Xoplaki E., Luterbacher J., Burkard R., Patrikas I. and Maheras P., 2000. Connection between the large-scale 500 hPa geopotential height fields and precipitation over Greece during wintertime. Clim. Res., 14, 129–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Institute of Geophysics of the ASCR, v.v.i 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markos Gouvas
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Sakellariou
    • 1
  • Fotios Xystrakis
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable DevelopmentNational Observatory of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Institute of SilvicultureAlbert-Ludwigs UniversityFreiburgGermany

Personalised recommendations