Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 628–645 | Cite as

Characterizing spatial patterns of precipitation based on corrected TRMM 3B43 data over the mid Tianshan Mountains of China

  • Xuan JiEmail author
  • Yunfang Chen


The poor distribution of meteorological stations results in a limited understanding of the precipitation pattern in the Tianshan Mountains. The spatial patterns of precipitation over the mid Tianshan Mountains were characterized based on the TRMM 3B43 monthly precipitation data. By comparing satellite estimates with observed data, it shows that TRMM 3B43 data underestimate the precipitation in mountain region. Regression models were developed to improve the TRMM 3B43 data, using geographic location and topographic variables extracted from DEM using GIS technology. The explained variance in observed precipitation was improved from 64% (from TRMM 3B43 products alone) to over 82% and the bias reduced by over 30% when location and topographic variables were added. We recalculated all the TRMM 3B43 monthly precipitation grids for the period 1998 to 2009 using the best regression models, and then studied the variation patterns of precipitation over the mid Tianshan Mountains. The results are well explained by a general understanding of the patterns of precipitation and orographic effects. This indicated that the Tianshan Mountains strongly influences the amount and distribution of precipitation in the region. This is highlighted by the confinement of the precipitation maxima to the windward (northern slope). And complex vertical changes in the provenance and distribution of precipitation, like that a negative increasing rate of precipitation in the vertical direction exists in the north but does not in south. The results have also revealed large gradients and different patterns in seasonal precipitation that are not simply related to elevation, the distribution of precipitation may also be affected by other seasonal factors such as the sources of moist air, wind direction and temperature.


Spatial pattern Precipitation Tianshan Mountains TRMM 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adler RF, Huffman GJ, Chang A, et al. (2003) The version-2 global precipitation climatology project (GPCP) monthly precipitation analysis (1979-present). Journal of Hydrometeorology 4: 1147–1167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler RF, Kidd C, Petty G, et al. (2001) Intercomparison of global precipitation products: The third precipitation intercomparison project (PIP-3). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 82: 1377–1396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. AghaKouchak A, Nasrollahi N, Habib E (2009) Accounting for uncertainties of the TRMM satellite estimates. Remote Sensing 13: 606–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aizen VB, Aizen EM, Melack JM (1996) Precipitation, melt and runoff in the northern Tien Shan. Journal of Hydrometeorology 186: 229–251.Google Scholar
  5. Almazroui M (2011) Calibration of TRMM rainfall climatology over Saudi Arabia during 1998–2009. Atmospheric Research 99: 400–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anders AM, Roe GH, Hallet B, et al. (2006) Spatial patterns of precipitation and topography in the Himalaya. Geological Society of America Special Paper 398, Geological Society of America. pp 39–53.Google Scholar
  7. Anderson NF, Cedric AG, Jeffrey LS (2005) Characteristics of Strong Updrafts in Precipitation Systems over the Central Tropical Pacific Ocean and in the Amazon. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 44: 731–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Aragao LEOC, Malhi Y, Cuesta RMR, et al. (2007) Spatial patterns and fire response of recent Amazonian droughts. Geophysical Research Letters 34: L07701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Arnold DN, Boffi D, Falk RS (2002) Approximation by quadrilateral finite element. Mathematics of Computation 71: 909–922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barros AP, Chiao S, Lang TJ, et al. (2006) From weather to climate—seasonal and interannual variability of storms and implications for erosion process in the Himalaya. Geological Society of America Spatial Paper 398. Penrose Conference Series. pp 17–38.Google Scholar
  11. Barros AP, Kim G, Williams E, et al. (2004) Probing orographic controls in the Himalayas during the monsoon using satellite imagery. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 4: 29–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Barros AP, Lettenmaier DP (1994) Dynamic modeling of orographically induced precipitation. Review of Geophysics 32: 265–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bell TL, Abdullah A, Martin RL, et al. (1990) Sampling errors for satellite-derived tropical rainfall: Monte Carlo study using a space-time stochastic model. Journal of Geophysical Research 95(D3): 2195–2205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Beniston M, Diaz HF, Bradley R S (1997) Climatic change at high elevation sites an overview. Climatic Change 36: 233–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Berg W, Ecuyer T, Kummerow C (2006) Rainfall climate regimes: the relationship of regional TRMM rainfall biases to the environment. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 45: 434–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bodo B, Douglas WB (2006) Topography, relief, and TRMM-derived rainfall variations along the Himalaya. Geophysical Research Letters 33: L08405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bookhagen B, Burbank DW (2010) Toward a complete Himalayan hydrologic budget: Spatiotemporal distribution of snowmelt and rainfall and their impact on river discharge. Journal of Geophysical Research 115: F03019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Boushaki FI, KL Hsu, Sorooshian S, et al. (2009) Bias adjustment of satellite precipitation estimation using ground-based measurement: A case study evaluation over the southwestern United States. Journal of Hydrometeorology 10: 231–1242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Bradley SG, Dirks KN, Stow CD (1998) High resolution studies of rainfall on Norfolk Island, Part III: a model for rainfall redistribution. Journal of Hydrometeorology 208: 194–203.Google Scholar
  20. Brito AE, Chan SH, Cabrera SD (2003) SAR image super resolution via 2-D adaptive extrapolation. Multidimensional Systems and Signal Processing 14: 83–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chen WL, Weng DM, Qian LQ, et al. (1980) Discussions about calculation method of temperature and precipitation in mesoscale mountain area. Journal of Nanjing Institute of Meteorology 1: 95–104.Google Scholar
  22. Collischonn B, Collischonn W, Morelli C (2008) Daily hydrological modeling in the Amazon basin using TRMM rainfall estimates. Journal of Hydrology 360(1–4): 207–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Condom TRP, Espinoza JC (2011) Correction of TRMM 3B43 monthly precipitation data over the mountainous areas of Peru during the period 1998–2007. Hydrological Processes 25(12): 1924–1933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Daly C, Neilson RP, Phillips DL (1994) A statistical topographic model for mapping climatologically precipitation over mountainous terrain. Journal of Applied Meteorology 33: 140–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dingman SL (2002) Physical hydrology: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice Hall. pp 646.Google Scholar
  26. Franchito SH, Brahmananda R, Vasques AC, et al. (2009) Validation of TRMM PR Monthly rainfall over Brazil. Journal of Geophysical Research 114: D02105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fu BP (1992) The impaction of topography and elevation on precipitation distribution. Acta Geographical Sinica 4: 302–314. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  28. Gao ZY, Zang JX, Liao FJ, et al. (2003) Change of Summer Precipitation during 40 years Period at North Slope of Middle Tiansan Mountains of Xinjiang. Journal of Desert Research 23(5): 581–585. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  29. Gebremichael M, Anagnostou EN, Bitew MM (2010) Critical Steps for Continuing Advancement of Satellite Rainfall Applications for Surface Hydrology in the Nile River Basin. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association 46: 361–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goodale CL, Alber JD, Ollinger SV (1998) Mapping monthly precipitation, temperature and solar radiation for Ireland with polynomial regression and digital elevation model. Climate Research 10: 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grecu M, Anagnostou EN (2001) Overland precipitation estimation from TRMM passive microwave observations. Journal of Applied Meteorology 40: 367–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gribbon KT, Bailey DG (2004) A novel approach to real time bilinear interpolation. In: Proceedings of the Second IEEE International Workshop on Electronic Design, Test and Applications. pp126.Google Scholar
  33. Groisman PV, Legates DR (1994) The accuracy of United States precipitation data, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 75: 215–227.Google Scholar
  34. Han TD, Ye BH, Jiao KQ (2002) Temperature variations in the southern and northern slopes of Mt. Tianger in the Tianshan Mountains. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology 24(5): 567–570. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  35. Han TD, Ding YJ, Ye BS, et al. (2004) Precipitation Variations on the Southern and Northern Slopes of the Tianger Range in Tianshan Mountains. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology 6: 761–766 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  36. Houze RA (1993) Cloud dynamics. Academic Press, Boston. p573.Google Scholar
  37. Huffman GJ, Adler RF, Arkin P, et al. (1997) The Global Precipitation Climatology multi satellite Project (GPCP) combined precipitation dataset. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 78: 5–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huffman GJ, Adler RF, Bolvin DT, et al. (2007) The TRMM multi-satellite precipitation analysis: quasi-global, multi-year, combined-sensor precipitation estimates at fine scale. Journal of Hydrometeorology 8(1): 38–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Huffman GJ, Adler RF, Rudolph B, et al. (1995) Global precipitation estimates based on a technique for combining satellite based estimates, rain gauge analysis, and NWP model precipitation information. Journal of Climate 8: 1284–1295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Huffman GJ, Bolvin DT (2012) TRMM and other data precipitation data set documentation. Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Science Systems and Applications, pp 25. [Available online at]
  41. Immerzeel WW, van Beek LPH, Bierkens MFP (2010) Climate change will affect the Asian water towers. Science 328: 1382–1385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Katzfey JJ (1994) Simulation of extreme New Zealand precipitation events. Part I: sensitivity to orography and resolution. Monthly Weather Rev 123(3): 737–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kurtzman D, Kadmon R (1999) Mapping of temperature variables in Israel: a comparison of different interpolation methods, Climate Research 13: 33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Legates DR, Willmott CJ (1990) Mean seasonal and spatial variability in gauge-corrected, global precipitation. International Journal of Climate 10: 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Li X, Ren YY, Tan GH, et al. (2005) Precipitation over the Middle Tianshan Mountains and Their Northern Slopes: Variations and Their Cause. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology 27(3): 381–388. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  46. Muhammad JMC, Wim GMB (2011) Local calibration of remotely sensed rainfall from the TRMM satellite for different periods and spatial scales in the Indus Basin, International Journal of Remote Sensing 8(33): 2603–2627.Google Scholar
  47. Nesbitt SW, Zipser EJ (2003) The diurnal cycle of rainfall and convective intensity according to three years of TRMM measurements. Journal of Climate 16: 1456–1475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. North G, Nakamoto S (1989) Formalism for comparing rain estimation designs. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 6: 985–992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Roe GH, Montgomery DR, Hallet B (2003) Orographic precipitation and the relief of mountain ranges. Journal of Geophysical Research 108(2315). p 12.Google Scholar
  50. Sealy A, Jenkins GS, Walford SC (2003) Seasonal/regional comparisons of rain rates and rain characteristics in West Africa using TRMM observations. Journal of Geophysical Research 108(4306). p 21.Google Scholar
  51. Shen YP, Liang H (2004) High Precipitation in Glacial Region of High Mountains in High Asia: Possible Cause. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology 24(6): 806–809. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  52. Shin KS, North GR (1988) Sampling error study for rainfall estimate by satellite using a stochastic model. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 27: 1218–1231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sinclair MR, Wratt DS, Henderson RD, Gray WR (1997) Factors affecting the distribution and spillover of precipitation in the Southern Alps of New Zealand—A case study: Journal of Applied Meteorology 36: 428–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith RB (1979) The influence of mountains on the atmosphere. Advances in Geophysics 21:87–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tian YD, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, John B. Eylander (2010) Real-Time Bias Reduction for Satellite-Based Precipitation Estimates. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 11: 1275–1285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tobin KJ, Marvin EB (2010) Adjusting Satellite Precipitation Data to Facilitate Hydrologic Modeling. Journal of Hydrometeorology 11: 966–978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wei WS, Hu RJ (1990) Precipitation and climate conditions in Tianshan Mountains. Arid Land Geography 13(1): 29–36. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  58. Weisse AK, Bois P (2001) Topographic effects on statistical characteristics of heavy rainfall and mapping in the French Alps. Journal of Applied Meteorology 40(4): 720–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wentz FJ (1991) User’s manual SSM/I antenna temperature tapes, revision1. Remote Sensing System (RSS) Technology Report 120191. p 70.Google Scholar
  60. Wilk J, Kniveton D, Andersson L, et al. (2006) Estimating rainfall and water balance over the Okavango River Basin for hydrological applications. Journal of Hydrology 331: 18–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wotling G, Bouvier C, Danloux J, Fritsch J M (2000) Regionalization of extreme precipitation distribution using the principal components of the topographical environment. Journal of Hydrology 233: 86–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yan J, Gebremichael M (2009) Estimating actual rainfall from satellite rainfall products. Atmospheric Research 92: 481–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Yin ZY, Liu X, Zhang X, et al. (2004) Using a geographic information system to improve special sensor microwave imager (SSM/I) precipitation estimates over the Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Geophysical Research 109: D03110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Yin ZY, Zhang XQ, Liu XD, et al. (2008) An assessment of the biases of satellite rainfall estimates over the Tibetan plateau and correction methods based on topographic analysis. Journal of Hydrometeorology 9(3): 301–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqi, XinjiangChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Center for Development ResearchYunnan Normal UniversityKunmingChina

Personalised recommendations