This paper presents an evaluation of three different methods for estimation of areal precipitation and temperature, with special emphasis on their applicability for runoff modelling in the Swedish mountains. All three methods estimate the areal values as a weighted mean of the observations at nearby meteorological stations. The weights are determined by:

1) a manual subjective selection of the most representative stations

3) inverse square distance weighting

4) optimal interpolation

The methods were tested in an area with complex topography and precipitation gradients. The evaluation included comparison of areal estimates, verification against point observations and the water balance equation, and sensitivity analyses with respect to method parameters and network changes.

The evaluation showed that for simple runoff modelling the subjective and optimal interpolation methods performed equally well, and considerably better than inverse-distance weighting. The evaluation also showed that none of the methods correctly described the spatial variation in precipitation and temperature in the investigated region. They are thus not directly applicable for non-routine modelling applications where the estimation of runoff is not the sole objective. All methods proved to be sensitive to the selection of parameter values, which pointed to possible improvements of the estimates. The optimal interpolation method seemed to be the least sensitive to changes in the meteorological network.