Plant Protection Center at Oregon State


revised Mar. 2004


In order to improve the useability of the online degree-day maps,, we are using an algorithm for downscaling the maps using elevation maplayers that have better than the 4 KM resolution used by PRISM maps. This method is a version of Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) (Fotheringham et al. 2002) that has been used successfully for demographic, climate, and ecological data where relationships vary spatially. We present the method and preliminary results for review and comment by users and GIS specialists. Please send any comments and suggestions to Len Coop at

At this time, we have the program incorporated into as a "resolution enhancement option". This option performs downscaling of PRISM-derived degree-day maps for the 5-state Northwestern US. The downscaling now takes 1:15 (1 minute 15 second or about 1.5 KM) heat unit data down to 0:09 (9 second) resolution using USGS GTOPO30 DEM (30 second elevation, about 580 meter resolution) and 360m DEM. This is approximately a 16 fold improved resolution, and does improve both relative and absolute precision and accuracy, as well as the readability, of the degree-day maps. The method uses a moving window 5x5 weighted simple linear regression. In addition, it has a) ability to ignore data beyond map edges, and b) a threshold r-value with "fail-back" to the non-downscaled value (currently used at r=0.15). Both distance-weights and threshold r-values are user-determined and set.

This program may provide a tool for other downscaling needs to provide an alternative to gaussian smoothing.

A brief outline of the process for computing PRISM-derived degree-day maps without the downscaling step is available from /wea/avgmapexp.html, and documentation for using the mapmaker application is available from /wea/mapmkrdoc.html. Please review.

TECHNICAL DOCUMENTATION - downscaling with higher resolution elevation data

To begin we provide examples of corrected PRISM, gaussian smoothed, and downscaled maps(made with 2 different resolution DEMs) in Fig.s 1-4.

click for full size map
Fig. 1. Initial PRISM-derived DD map, 4 km (corrected using near-realtime site data)
click for full size map
Fig. 2. Final (gaussian-smoothed) DD map, 500 m (as available from web application with the default, "original resolution" option selected)
click for full size map
Fig. 3. New downscaled DD map, 100 m (downscaled using, no additional gaussian smoothing, this based on USGS 30m DEM, no longer available at
click for full size map
Fig. 4. New downscaled DD map, 500 m (downscaled using, with additional gaussian smoothing, based on USGS GTOPO30 DEM, now available at as the "resolution enhancement" option)

An outline of the process is as follows:

Description of for GRASS 5.0x & 4.x (not recommended)

The GRASS script for conducting the downscaling,, is available at (GRASS 5.0x), and (GRASS 4.x). It is written as a Perl (5.x) script that merely reads and sets up arguments to be passed to r.mapcalc, the main programming/modeling tool available in GRASS. The original version should work with GRASS 4.x, and deals with its lack of floating point map storage. The latest was modified to use GRASS 5.0 floating point data storage, and note r.mapcalc in GRASS 5.0 does NOT seem to allow newlines between separate statements as the older versions did. A complete help file for using the script has not yet been written. Output of the script with no parameters results in this help message: Perl script to use r.mapcalc and GWR to downscale from low to high 
    resolution using 5 x 5 local weighted regressions between variables
    like rainfall or temperature (dep. variable) and elevation
    (indep. variable).
    The program expects to be run twice:
    Once at the lower resolution to build models using calc=BUILD,
    then at a higher resolution using calc=EST to calculate new
    high resolution values. Example usage:

    GRASS >g.region res=0:02:30.00                             # set lower res
    GRASS > input=H_50 elev_lo=lodem calc=BUILD  # build model
    GRASS >g.region res=0:00:09.00                             # set higher res
    GRASS > elev_hi=DEM30m elev_lo=lodem input=H_50 output=HI_50 calc=EST # estimate

    For help:
    --help or -h        print this message and exit.
    --keys or -k        print the list of keys and exit.
    --defaults or -d    print the list of keys and defaults and exit.
   Other arguments are interpreted as parameter=value pairs

   Notes: For GRASS 4.x, all stats are scaled up: B1 (x1000), B0 (x100),
          r (x100), residuals (x100).  Keep this in mind when checking
Running the script as -d (show defaults) results in this summary:
  #parameter =default    # description (all filenames are GRASS raster maplayers) 
  calc       =BUILD      # req: function performed (BUILD or EST)
  input      =H_50       # req: BUILD & EST low res filename to be downscaled
  elev_lo    =us_25m_dem # req: BUILD low res elev filename
  elev_hi    =DEM30m     # req: EST high res elev filename
  output     =HIDD5d     # req: EST output filename with downscaled values
  b1         =BONE       # opt: BUILD & EST slope filename
  b0         =BZERO      # opt: BUILD & EST intercept filename
  rval       =RVAL       # opt: BUILD corr. coeff. (r) filename 
  resid      =RESID      # opt: BUILD residual (Yi - YHATi) (x10) filename
  ssxy       =SSXY       # opt: BUILD intermediate filename SSXY (sum of squares xy)
  ssxx       =SSXX       # opt: BUILD intermediate filename SSXX (sum of squares xx)
  ssyy       =SSYY       # opt: BUILD intermediate filename SSYY (sum of squares yy)
  d0         =1.0        # opt: BUILD wt value for 5 x 5 center cell      
  d1         =1.0        # opt: BUILD wt value at dist. = 1 cell from center
  d2         =1.0        # opt: BUILD wt value at dist. = 2 cells from center
  e0         =8.0        # opt: EST wt value for 5 x 5 center cell      
  e1         =2.0        # opt: EST wt value at dist. = 1 cell from center
  e2         =1.0        # opt: EST wt value at dist. = 2 cells from center
  rth        =0.08       # opt: EST minimum acceptable local rsqr from build (not in orig version)

Preliminary validation analysis

The above maps were tested for a set of weather stations both included and excluded from the mapmaking process. The included sites include 5 locations that are normally used in DD map computations, and can provide verification that any smoothing or interpolation does not disrupt actual site DDs that were used to correct PRISM-based DDs. The excluded sites consist of a Hood River grower-run network that has not yet been included in the process of computing degree-day maps. All actual site DDs were calculated from the site calculator, at All results are displayed in Table 1.

For the inclusive data set, the correlation between the 4km DDs (sampled from the maplayer shown in Fig. 1 using GRASS command r.what) and actual site DDs is very good, r=0.97, reflecting the fact that DD maps were corrected using these site data. The correlation is not perfect primarily because site location precision could be improved (see lat-long coordinates). Gaussian smoothing appears to slightly improve the correlation, to r=0.998. Downscaling using the described regression algorithm also produced a high correlation, r=0.973, indicating that the method does not appear biased or inaccurate. It is expected that improvements in location precision, and in selection of a more appropriate DEM maplayer, will help with future verifications.

In the case of the exclusive data set, as expected, none of the estimated DD totals are as highly correlated with the reference (site) calculated DDs. The corrected PRISM DDs at 4km resolution show good correlation, on average within 7% of the reference data set (r=0.673). This result can be expected given the lack of precision in spatial resolution. The DDs smoothed by a gaussian filter to 500m are better correlated, r=0.764, which reflects that gaussian smoothing can be helpful for point-specific readings. The gaussian-smoothed maps do not follow the higher resolution topography, however, whereas it is known that temperature gradients will follow a much higher elevation scale of better than 100-500 m (references). The preliminary results using the downscaling method support this fact, with a correlation that is further improved to r=0.810. Much better results would be expected in a jackknife validation, by building maps using all sites other than the site tested. Such an analysis would improve the overall accuracy of these DD maps, and further support the intuitive conclusion that higher resolution maps can only be meaningfully used in conjunction with a more densely distributed network of weather stations. Also, a more rigorous test could involve weather station networks located as transects along slopes.

Table 1. Verification and validation data for 4km, gaussian smoothing, and least squares downscale techniques used for producing degree-day maps in Figs. 1-3 above. Click on station names for location map of grower-run stations.
                BUILD Model Results
Station Station Station ActualElevElevEst DDEst DDEst DDSlopeInterceptCorr.Residual
Longitude Latitude Name site DD4km 500m4km 500m
B1 B0 coeff.Yi - Yhat
1. Stations included from the analysis (verification data)
121:35:00.00W45:31:00.00NPARO 2647 600528263225912657-8.30316793.34-.93-50
121:30:07.00W45:38:52.00NPNGO 2968 203212312329633189-11.40320237.14-.94-96
121:31:01.00W45:41:00.00NHOXO 3410 203135312333153274-9.39419639.10-.8171
121:37:55.00W45:35:08.00NDEFO 2748 376279275127062953-9.06018157.79-.86-62
121:12:05.00W45:36:01.00NT_Dalles 4265 18269 426643354448-21.38529003.83-.95104
correlation: EST DD vs actual DD    0.9700.9980.973    
2. Hood River stations excluded from the analysis (validation data)
121:34:37.51W45:40:13.37NAnnala3071 295255306531383098-8.90819211.18-.81-7
121:33:52.44W45:38:34.73NOates 3111 384227289930253102-10.20319209.27-.91-14
121:31:01.16W45:41:07.18NMCAREC 3257 203155312333313249-9.39419639.10-.8171
121:29:31.02W45:40:13.00NMoore 2837 203208312331393224-10.02320207.59-.8413
121:31:10.18W45:36:29.17NNakamura 3062 311353272527082926-10.42019214.75-.92-94
121:36:34.70W45:31:06.31NKlindt 2635 671511249026022685-9.26117388.52-.92-34
121:34:55.54W45:30:39.41NLaurance 2422 600534263225672650-8.30316793.34-.93-49
correlation: EST DD vs actual DD    0.6730.7640.810    

Fotheringham, A. S., C. Brunsdon, and M. Charlton. 2002. Geographically Weighted Regression – the analysis of spatially varying relationships. J. Wiley & Sons.269 pp.

[Home] [Intro] [Data Table-OR] [DD Calc & Models] [Links]

This project funded in part by a grant from the USDA-Western Regional IPM program.

On-line since April 5, 1996
This page last updated Mar 25, 2004
Contact Len Coop at if you have any questions about this information.