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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Mar 2018

Research article | 01 Mar 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

The Probability Distribution of Daily Precipitation at the Point and Catchment Scales in the United States

Lei Ye1, Lars S. Hanson2, Pengqi Ding1, Dingbao Wang3, and Richard M. Vogel4 Lei Ye et al.
  • 1School of Hydraulic Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China
  • 2Institute for Public Research, Center for Naval Analyses, Arlington, Virginia, USA
  • 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA
  • 4Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA

Abstract. Choosing a probability distribution to represent daily precipitation depths is important for precipitation frequency analysis, stochastic precipitation modeling and in climate trend assessments. Early studies identified the 2-parameter Gamma (G2) distribution as a suitable distribution for wet-day precipitation based on traditional goodness of fit tests. Here, probability plot correlation coefficients and L-moment diagrams are used to examine distributional alternatives for the full-record and wet-day series of daily precipitation at the point and catchment scales in the United States. Importantly, the G2 distribution performs poorly in comparison to either the Pearson Type-III (P3) or Kappa (KAP) distributions. The analysis indicates that the P3 distribution fits the full record of daily precipitation at both the point and catchment scales remarkably well; while the KAP distribution best describes the distribution of wet-day precipitation at the point scale, and the performance of KAP and P3 distributions is comparable for wet-day precipitation at the catchment scale.

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