Science Inventory

A Survey of Precipitation Data for Environmental Modeling


Sitterson, J., Chris Knightes, R. Parmar, K. Wolfe, B. Avant, A. Ignatius, AND D. Smith. A Survey of Precipitation Data for Environmental Modeling. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-17/441, 2017.


This report provides a survey of precipitation data sources and generation methods for environmental modeling. As a main component of the hydrological cycle and contaminant fate and transport, precipitation data are needed for hydrological modeling, erosion modeling, and water quality research. We compile descriptions of several precipitation datasets and data generation methods available globally and for the contiguous United States, specifically. The datasets and data generation methods included are publicly available online and often cited by the modeling community. Some of the datasets are purely observed and derived from rain gauges, radar, and satellites, while others are simulated datasets generated by mathematical equations to predict future weather conditions and recreate past events. Additionally, some precipitation data products are derived from a combination of observed data and model equations to generate weather estimates.


This report explores the types of precipitation data available for environmental modeling. Precipitation is the main driver in the hydrological cycle and modelers use this information to understand water quality and water availability. Models use observed precipitation information for modeling past or current conditions, while simulated data are used to predict future conditions as well as re-create historic conditions. Rain gauge-, radar-, and satellite-based measurements are categorized in the observed precipitation dataset. Calculated precipitation data from numerical weather predictors, stochastic models, and nonparametric models are part of the simulated data available for modeling. Temporal resolution, data availability, spatial resolution, and method of measuring precipitation are described for each dataset; global datasets and datasets of the contiguous United States are explained in this report. Our goal is to inform modelers of the various types, resolutions, and sources of precipitation data available for environmental modeling. We discuss only a few frequently cited datasets in detail due to the vast amounts of precipitation data available for modeling purposes.



Record Details:

Product Published Date: 10/01/2017
Record Last Revised: 02/09/2018
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 339606