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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 472741, 16 pages
Research Article

Statistical Downscaling of ERA-Interim Forecast Precipitation Data in Complex Terrain Using LASSO Algorithm

1College of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China
2Fujian Provincial Engineering Research Center for Monitoring and Assessing Terrestrial Disasters, Fuzhou 350007, China
3Department of Geography, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 80333 Munich, Germany
4Institute of Water Management, Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, 1190 Vienna, Austria

Received 27 March 2014; Revised 21 June 2014; Accepted 23 June 2014; Published 10 July 2014

Academic Editor: Lian Xie

Copyright © 2014 Lu Gao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Precipitation is an essential input parameter for land surface models because it controls a large variety of environmental processes. However, the commonly sparse meteorological networks in complex terrains are unable to provide the information needed for many applications. Therefore, downscaling local precipitation is necessary. To this end, a new machine learning method, LASSO algorithm (least absolute shrinkage and selection operator), is used to address the disparity between ERA-Interim forecast precipitation data (0.25° grid) and point-scale meteorological observations. LASSO was tested and validated against other three downscaling methods, local intensity scaling (LOCI), quantile-mapping (QM), and stepwise regression (Stepwise) at 50 meteorological stations, located in the high mountainous region of the central Alps. The downscaling procedure is implemented in two steps. Firstly, the dry or wet days are classified and the precipitation amounts conditional on the occurrence of wet days are modeled subsequently. Compared to other three downscaling methods, LASSO shows the best performances in precipitation occurrence and precipitation amount prediction on average. Furthermore, LASSO could reduce the error for certain sites, where no improvement could be seen when LOCI and QM were used. This study proves that LASSO is a reasonable alternative to other statistical methods with respect to the downscaling of precipitation data.