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Validation of TRMM Precipitation Radar through Comparison of Its Multiyear Measurements with Ground-Based Radar

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  • 1 Goddard Earth Sciences & Technology Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • | 2 National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
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Abstract

A procedure to accurately resample spaceborne and ground-based radar data is described and then is applied to the measurements taken from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and the ground-based Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D or WSR) for the validation of the PR measurements and estimates. Through comparisons with the well-calibrated, nonattenuated WSR at Melbourne, Florida, for the period 1998–2007, the calibration of the PR aboard the TRMM satellite is checked using measurements near the storm top. Analysis of the results indicates that the PR, after taking into account differences in radar reflectivity factors between the PR and WSR, has a small positive bias of 0.8 dB relative to the WSR, implying a soundness of the PR calibration in view of the uncertainties involved in the comparisons. Comparisons between the PR and WSR reflectivities are also made near the surface for evaluation of the attenuation-correction procedures used in the PR algorithms. It is found that the PR attenuation is accurately corrected in stratiform rain but is underestimated in convective rain, particularly in heavy rain. Tests of the PR estimates of rainfall rate are conducted through comparisons in the overlap area between the TRMM overpass and WSR scan. Analyses of the data are made both on a conditional basis, in which the instantaneous rain rates are compared only at those pixels at which both the PR and WSR detect rain, and an unconditional basis, in which the area-averaged rain rates are estimated independently for the PR and WSR. Results of the conditional rain comparisons show that the PR-derived rain is about 9% greater and 19% less than the WSR estimates for stratiform and convective storms, respectively. Overall, the PR tends to underestimate the conditional mean rain rate by 8% for all rain categories, a finding that conforms to the results of the area-averaged rain (unconditional) comparisons.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Liang Liao, Goddard Earth Sciences & Technology Center/UMBC, Code 614.6, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: liang.liao-1@nasa.gov

Abstract

A procedure to accurately resample spaceborne and ground-based radar data is described and then is applied to the measurements taken from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and the ground-based Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D or WSR) for the validation of the PR measurements and estimates. Through comparisons with the well-calibrated, nonattenuated WSR at Melbourne, Florida, for the period 1998–2007, the calibration of the PR aboard the TRMM satellite is checked using measurements near the storm top. Analysis of the results indicates that the PR, after taking into account differences in radar reflectivity factors between the PR and WSR, has a small positive bias of 0.8 dB relative to the WSR, implying a soundness of the PR calibration in view of the uncertainties involved in the comparisons. Comparisons between the PR and WSR reflectivities are also made near the surface for evaluation of the attenuation-correction procedures used in the PR algorithms. It is found that the PR attenuation is accurately corrected in stratiform rain but is underestimated in convective rain, particularly in heavy rain. Tests of the PR estimates of rainfall rate are conducted through comparisons in the overlap area between the TRMM overpass and WSR scan. Analyses of the data are made both on a conditional basis, in which the instantaneous rain rates are compared only at those pixels at which both the PR and WSR detect rain, and an unconditional basis, in which the area-averaged rain rates are estimated independently for the PR and WSR. Results of the conditional rain comparisons show that the PR-derived rain is about 9% greater and 19% less than the WSR estimates for stratiform and convective storms, respectively. Overall, the PR tends to underestimate the conditional mean rain rate by 8% for all rain categories, a finding that conforms to the results of the area-averaged rain (unconditional) comparisons.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Liang Liao, Goddard Earth Sciences & Technology Center/UMBC, Code 614.6, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: liang.liao-1@nasa.gov

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