An Evaluation of IMERG and ERA5 Quantitative Precipitation Estimates over the Southern Ocean Using Shipborne Observations

E. Montoya Duque aThe University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
bAustralian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Y. Huang aThe University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
bAustralian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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P. T. May cMonash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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S. T. Siems bAustralian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
cMonash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
dSecuring Antarctica’s Environmental Future, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Abstract

Recent voyages of the Australian R/V Investigator across the remote Southern Ocean have provided unprecedented observations of precipitation made with both an Ocean Rainfall and Ice-Phase Precipitation Measurement Network (OceanRAIN) maritime disdrometer and a dual-polarization C-band weather radar (OceanPOL). This present study employs these observations to evaluate the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) and the fifth major global reanalysis produced by ECMWF (ERA5) precipitation products. Working at a resolution of 60 min and 0.25° (∼25 km), light rain and drizzle are most frequently observed across the region. The IMERG product overestimated precipitation intensity when evaluated against the OceanRAIN but captured the frequency of occurrence well. Looking at the synoptic/process scale, IMERG was found to be the least accurate (overestimated intensity) under warm-frontal and high-latitude cyclone conditions, where multilayer clouds were commonly present. Under postfrontal conditions, IMERG underestimated the precipitation frequency. In comparison, ERA5’s skill was more consistent across various synoptic conditions, except for high pressure conditions where the precipitation frequency (intensity) was highly overestimated (underestimated). Using the OceanPOL radar, an area-to-area analysis (fractional skill score) finds that ERA5 has greater skill than IMERG. There is little agreement in the phase classification between the OceanRAIN disdrometer, IMERG, and ERA5. The comparisons are complicated by the various assumptions for phase classification in the different datasets.

Significance Statement

Our best quantitative estimates of precipitation over the remote, pristine Southern Ocean (SO) continue to suffer from a high degree of uncertainty, with large differences present among satellite-based and reanalysis products. New instrumentation on the R/V Investigator, specifically a dual-polarization C-band weather radar (OceanPOL) and a maritime disdrometer (OceanRAIN), provide unprecedented high-quality observations of precipitation across the SO that will aid in improving precipitation estimates in this region. We use these observations to evaluate the IMERG and ERA5 precipitation products. We find that, in general, IMERG overestimated precipitation intensity, but captured the frequency of occurrence well. In comparison, ERA5 was found to overestimate the frequency of precipitation. Using the OceanPOL radar, an area-to-area analysis finds that ERA5 has greater skill than IMERG.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM): Science and Applications Special Collection.

Corresponding author: E. Montoya Duque, emontoyaduqu@student.unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Recent voyages of the Australian R/V Investigator across the remote Southern Ocean have provided unprecedented observations of precipitation made with both an Ocean Rainfall and Ice-Phase Precipitation Measurement Network (OceanRAIN) maritime disdrometer and a dual-polarization C-band weather radar (OceanPOL). This present study employs these observations to evaluate the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) and the fifth major global reanalysis produced by ECMWF (ERA5) precipitation products. Working at a resolution of 60 min and 0.25° (∼25 km), light rain and drizzle are most frequently observed across the region. The IMERG product overestimated precipitation intensity when evaluated against the OceanRAIN but captured the frequency of occurrence well. Looking at the synoptic/process scale, IMERG was found to be the least accurate (overestimated intensity) under warm-frontal and high-latitude cyclone conditions, where multilayer clouds were commonly present. Under postfrontal conditions, IMERG underestimated the precipitation frequency. In comparison, ERA5’s skill was more consistent across various synoptic conditions, except for high pressure conditions where the precipitation frequency (intensity) was highly overestimated (underestimated). Using the OceanPOL radar, an area-to-area analysis (fractional skill score) finds that ERA5 has greater skill than IMERG. There is little agreement in the phase classification between the OceanRAIN disdrometer, IMERG, and ERA5. The comparisons are complicated by the various assumptions for phase classification in the different datasets.

Significance Statement

Our best quantitative estimates of precipitation over the remote, pristine Southern Ocean (SO) continue to suffer from a high degree of uncertainty, with large differences present among satellite-based and reanalysis products. New instrumentation on the R/V Investigator, specifically a dual-polarization C-band weather radar (OceanPOL) and a maritime disdrometer (OceanRAIN), provide unprecedented high-quality observations of precipitation across the SO that will aid in improving precipitation estimates in this region. We use these observations to evaluate the IMERG and ERA5 precipitation products. We find that, in general, IMERG overestimated precipitation intensity, but captured the frequency of occurrence well. In comparison, ERA5 was found to overestimate the frequency of precipitation. Using the OceanPOL radar, an area-to-area analysis finds that ERA5 has greater skill than IMERG.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM): Science and Applications Special Collection.

Corresponding author: E. Montoya Duque, emontoyaduqu@student.unimelb.edu.au

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