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Delineating Precipitation Regions of the Contiguous United States from Cluster Analyzed Gridded Data

posted on 2021-02-24, 02:10 authored by Michael Marston, Andrew Ellis
Spatially homogenous precipitation regions were delineated for the contiguous United States using a gridded dataset of daily precipitation. Seasonal means (1981 – 2010) of four variables, together characterizing seasonal precipitation, were computed and subjected to a principal component analysis (PCA). PCA reduced the original 30665 grid cells by 16 precipitation variables (four variables, four seasons) dataset. The standardized scores of the three retained principal components, which together retain 78.4 percent of the original dataset’s variance, were then subjected to three agglomerative hierarchical clustering techniques. Using an objective method, several cluster solutions were examined, and the average linkage 13-cluster solution was deemed optimal. The average linkage solution was then subjected to a k-means partitioning technique under the premise that objects are not considered for re-assignment during agglomerative hierarchical cluster procedures. The result is 15 precipitation regions across the contiguous United States. Results indicate that the regions successfully minimize intra-region variability and maximize inter-region variability when compared to the nine climate regions defined by the United States National Centers for Environmental Information. It is therefore suggested that the regions defined by this work will better serve research aimed at an improved understanding of long-term hydroclimate change and variability at regional-to-synoptic scales across the United States.



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