Can We Estimate the Uncertainty Level of Satellite Long-Term Precipitation Records?

Veljko Petković aEarth System Science Interdisciplinary Center/Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland
bColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Paula J. Brown bColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Wesley Berg bColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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David L. Randel bColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Spencer R. Jones bColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Christian D. Kummerow bColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

Several decades of continuous improvements in satellite precipitation algorithms have resulted in fairly accurate level-2 precipitation products for local-scale applications. Numerous studies have been carried out to quantify random and systematic errors at individual validation sites and regional networks. Understanding uncertainties at larger scales, however, has remained a challenge. Temporal changes in precipitation regional biases, regime morphology, sampling, and observation-vector information content, all play important roles in defining the accuracy of satellite rainfall retrievals. This study considers these contributors to offer a quantitative estimate of uncertainty in recently produced global precipitation climate data record. Generated from intercalibrated observations collected by a constellation of passive microwave (PMW) radiometers over the course of 30 years, this data record relies on Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission enterprise PMW precipitation retrieval to offer a long-term global monthly precipitation estimates with corresponding uncertainty at 5° scales. To address changes in the information content across different constellation members the study develops synthetic datasets from GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) sensor, while sampling- and morphology-related uncertainties are quantified using GPM’s dual-frequency precipitation radar (DPR). Special attention is given to separating precipitation into self-similar states that appear to be consistent across environmental conditions. Results show that the variability of bias patterns can be explained by the relative occurrence of different precipitation states across the regions and used to calculate product’s uncertainty. It is found that at 5° spatial scale monthly mean precipitation uncertainties in tropics can exceed 10%.

© 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: Veljko Petković, veljko.petkovic@umd.edu

Abstract

Several decades of continuous improvements in satellite precipitation algorithms have resulted in fairly accurate level-2 precipitation products for local-scale applications. Numerous studies have been carried out to quantify random and systematic errors at individual validation sites and regional networks. Understanding uncertainties at larger scales, however, has remained a challenge. Temporal changes in precipitation regional biases, regime morphology, sampling, and observation-vector information content, all play important roles in defining the accuracy of satellite rainfall retrievals. This study considers these contributors to offer a quantitative estimate of uncertainty in recently produced global precipitation climate data record. Generated from intercalibrated observations collected by a constellation of passive microwave (PMW) radiometers over the course of 30 years, this data record relies on Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission enterprise PMW precipitation retrieval to offer a long-term global monthly precipitation estimates with corresponding uncertainty at 5° scales. To address changes in the information content across different constellation members the study develops synthetic datasets from GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) sensor, while sampling- and morphology-related uncertainties are quantified using GPM’s dual-frequency precipitation radar (DPR). Special attention is given to separating precipitation into self-similar states that appear to be consistent across environmental conditions. Results show that the variability of bias patterns can be explained by the relative occurrence of different precipitation states across the regions and used to calculate product’s uncertainty. It is found that at 5° spatial scale monthly mean precipitation uncertainties in tropics can exceed 10%.

© 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: Veljko Petković, veljko.petkovic@umd.edu
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