Comparison of Rainfall Products Derived from TRMM Microwave Imager and Precipitation Radar

Hirohiko Masunaga Earth Observation Research Center, National Space Development Agency, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan

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Toshio Iguchi Applied Research and Standards Division, Communication Research Laboratory, Koganei, Tokyo, Japan

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Riko Oki Satellite Program and Planning Department, National Space Development Agency, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

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Misako Kachi Earth Observation Research Center, National Space Development Agency, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan

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Abstract

Satellite remote sensing is an indispensable means of measuring and monitoring precipitation on a global scale. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) is continuing to make significant progress in helping the global features of precipitation to be understood, particularly with the help of a pair of spaceborne microwave sensors, the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) and precipitation radar (PR). The TRMM version-5 standard products, however, are known to have a systematic inconsistency in mean monthly rainfall. To clarify the origin of this inconsistency, the authors investigate the zonal mean precipitation and the regional trends in the hydrometeor profiles in terms of the precipitation water content (PWC) and the precipitation water path (PWP) derived from the TMI profiling algorithm (2A12) and the PR profile (2A25). An excess of PR over TMI in near-surface PWC is identified in the midlatitudes (especially in winter), whereas PWP exhibits a striking excess of TMI over PR around the tropical rainfall maximum. It is shown that these inconsistencies arise from TMI underestimating the near-surface PWC in midlatitude winter and PR underestimating PWP in the Tropics. This conclusion is supported by the contoured-frequency-by-altitude diagrams as a function of PWC. Correlations between rain rate and PWC/PWP indicate that the TMI profiling algorithm tends to provide a larger rain rate than the PR profile under a given PWC or PWP, which exaggerates the excess by TMI and cancels the excess by PR through the conversion from precipitation water to rain rate. As a consequence, the disagreement in the rainfall products between TMI and PR is a combined result of the intrinsic bias originating from the different physical principles between TMI and PR measurements and the purely algorithmic bias inherent in the conversion from precipitation water to rain rate.

* Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. Corresponding author address: Hirohiko Masunaga, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523. masunaga@atmos.colostate.edu

Abstract

Satellite remote sensing is an indispensable means of measuring and monitoring precipitation on a global scale. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) is continuing to make significant progress in helping the global features of precipitation to be understood, particularly with the help of a pair of spaceborne microwave sensors, the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) and precipitation radar (PR). The TRMM version-5 standard products, however, are known to have a systematic inconsistency in mean monthly rainfall. To clarify the origin of this inconsistency, the authors investigate the zonal mean precipitation and the regional trends in the hydrometeor profiles in terms of the precipitation water content (PWC) and the precipitation water path (PWP) derived from the TMI profiling algorithm (2A12) and the PR profile (2A25). An excess of PR over TMI in near-surface PWC is identified in the midlatitudes (especially in winter), whereas PWP exhibits a striking excess of TMI over PR around the tropical rainfall maximum. It is shown that these inconsistencies arise from TMI underestimating the near-surface PWC in midlatitude winter and PR underestimating PWP in the Tropics. This conclusion is supported by the contoured-frequency-by-altitude diagrams as a function of PWC. Correlations between rain rate and PWC/PWP indicate that the TMI profiling algorithm tends to provide a larger rain rate than the PR profile under a given PWC or PWP, which exaggerates the excess by TMI and cancels the excess by PR through the conversion from precipitation water to rain rate. As a consequence, the disagreement in the rainfall products between TMI and PR is a combined result of the intrinsic bias originating from the different physical principles between TMI and PR measurements and the purely algorithmic bias inherent in the conversion from precipitation water to rain rate.

* Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. Corresponding author address: Hirohiko Masunaga, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523. masunaga@atmos.colostate.edu

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