Quantification of precipitation measurement discontinuity induced by wind shields on national gauges

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



Various combinations of wind shields and national precipitation gauges commonly used in countries of the northern hemisphere have been studied in this paper, using the combined intercomparison data collected at 14 sites during the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Solid Precipitation Measurement Intercomparison Project. The results show that wind shields improve gauge catch of precipitation, particularly for snow. Shielded gauges, on average, measure 20–70% more snow than unshielded gauges. Without a doubt, the use of wind shields on precipitation gauges has introduced a significant discontinuity into precipitation records, particularly in cold and windy regions. This discontinuity is not constant and it varies with wind speed, temperature, and precipitation type. Adjustment for this discontinuity is necessary to obtain homogenous precipitation data for climate change and hydrological studies. The relation of the relative catch ratio (RCR, ratio of measurements of shielded gauge to unshielded gauge) versus wind speed and temperature has been developed for Alter and Tretyakov wind shields. Strong linear relations between measurements of shielded gauge and unshielded gauge have also been found for different precipitation types. The linear relation does not fully take into account the varying effect of wind and temperature on gauge catch. Overadjustment by the linear relation may occur at those sites with lower wind speeds, and underadjustment may occur at those stations with higher wind speeds. The RCR technique is anticipated to be more applicable in a wide range of climate conditions. The RCR technique and the linear relation have been tested at selected WMO intercomparison stations, and reasonable agreement between the adjusted amounts and the shielded gauge measurements was obtained at most of the sites. Test application of the developed methodologies to a regional or national network is therefore recommended to further evaluate their applicability in different climate conditions. Significant increase of precipitation is expected due to the adjustment particularly in high latitudes and other cold regions. This will have a meaningful impact on climate variation and change analyses.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Quantification of precipitation measurement discontinuity induced by wind shields on national gauges
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/1998WR900042
Volume 35
Issue 2
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 491
Last page 508
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page