Big data is popular in the areas of computer science, commerce and bioinformatics, but is in an early stage in hydroinformatics. Big data is originated from the extremely large datasets that cannot be processed in tolerable elapsed time with the traditional data processing methods. Using the analogy from the object-oriented programming, big data should be considered as objects encompassing the data, its characteristics and the processing methods. Hydroinformatics can benefit from the big data technology with newly emerged data, techniques and analytical tools to handle large datasets, from which creative ideas and new values could be mined. This paper provides a timely review on big data with its relevance to hydroinformatics. A further exploration on precipitation big data is discussed because estimation of precipitation is an important part of hydrology for managing floods and droughts, and understanding the global water cycle. It is promising that fusion of precipitation data from remote sensing, weather radar, rain gauge and numerical weather modelling could be achieved by parallel computing and distributed data storage, which will trigger a leap in precipitation estimation as the available data from multiple sources could be fused to generate a better product than those from single sources.
- big data
- data fusion
- precipitation estimates
- First received 21 August 2015.
- Accepted in revised form 22 January 2016.
- © IWA Publishing 2016