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A large population relies on water input to the Indus basin, yet basinwide precipitation amounts and trends are not well quantified. Gridded precipitation data sets covering different time periods and based on either station observations, satellite remote sensing, or reanalysis were compared with available station observations and analyzed for basinwide precipitation trends. Compared to observations, some data sets tended to greatly underestimate precipitation, while others overestimate it. Additionally, the discrepancies between data set and station precipitation showed significant time trends in many cases, suggesting that the precipitation trends of those data sets were not consistent with station data. Among the data sets considered, the station-based Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) gridded data set showed good agreement with observations in terms of mean amount, trend, and spatial and temporal pattern. GPCC had average precipitation of about 500 mm per year over the basin and an increase in mean precipitation of about 15% between 1891 and 2016. For the more recent past, since 1958 or 1979, no significant precipitation trend was seen. Among the remote sensing based data sets, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Multi-Satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) compared best to station observations and, though available for a shorter time period than station-based data sets such as GPCC, may be especially valuable for parts of the basin without station data. The reanalyses tended to have substantial biases in precipitation mean amount or trend relative to the station data. This assessment of precipitation data set quality and precipitation trends over the Indus basin may be helpful for water planning and management.


This article was originally published in Climate, available at doi:10.3390/cli7100116

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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