Evaluation of global precipitation data sets over the Iberian Peninsula

Belo-Pereira M, Dutra E, Viterbo P
J. Geophys. Res., 116, D20101,

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A new publicly available daily gridded precipitation data set over mainland Portugal is presented. This data set is also combined with a recent Spanish data set to obtain a high resolution (0.2 0.2) Iberian data set, labeled IB02. This data set covers the period from 1950 to 2003 and is based on a dense network, with more than 2000 and 400 quality-controlled stations over Spain and Portugal, respectively. The ordinary kriging method, applied over Portugal for consistency with the Spanish data set, performs slightly better than simpler interpolation techniques tested over Portugal. Additionally, this paper evaluates four global gridded data sets: two based on rain gauges (Climate Research Unit (CRU) and Global Precipitation Climate Center (GPCC)) and two European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalyses (ERA-40 and ERA-Interim), comparing them with the IB02 data set. The main features of the spatial distribution of IB02 mean annual precipitation are reasonably captured by the global data sets, despite their dry biases, mostly in mountainous regions. The four data sets perform better in western Iberia and are able to identify the major drought spells at the Iberian scale. Despite these similarities, GPCC outperforms CRU and ERA-Interim is superior to ERA-40 with respect to several aspects, such as annual cycle and drought detection. The performance of CRU is similar to that of ERA-Interim. The frequency of wet days is overestimated by reanalyses, mainly by ERA-Interim, while heavy precipitation events are underestimated, mostly by ERA-40. At 5 day scales, ECMWF reanalyses reveal difficulties in predicting the magnitude of precipitation, despite their greater ability to estimate the peak locations.