The Comparison of Two Merged Rain Gauge–Satellite Precipitation Datasets

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Two large-scale precipitation datasets, one produced by the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) and the other by the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service, and called Climate Prediction Center Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP), were compared. Both datasets blend satellite and gauge estimates of precipitation. And while the latter has its heritage in the GPCP, different analysis procedures and some additional types of input data used by CMAP yielded different values. This study used the error characteristics of the data to assess the significance of the observed differences. Despite good spatial and temporal correlations between the two fields some of the observed differences were significant at the 95% level. These were traced to the use of some different input data such as the use by CMAP of atoll gauges in the tropical Pacific and gauges uncorrected for wetting evaporation and aerodynamic effects. The former impacts the tropical ocean rain amounts and the latter is particularly noticeable in the Northern Hemisphere land areas. Also, the application of these datasets to the validation of atmospheric general circulation models is discussed.

* NOAA/NESDIS Office of Research and Applications, Camp Springs, Maryland.

+NOAA/NWS, National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Camp Springs, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Arnold Gruber, NOAA/NESDIS, Office of Research and Applications, Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304.

Two large-scale precipitation datasets, one produced by the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) and the other by the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service, and called Climate Prediction Center Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP), were compared. Both datasets blend satellite and gauge estimates of precipitation. And while the latter has its heritage in the GPCP, different analysis procedures and some additional types of input data used by CMAP yielded different values. This study used the error characteristics of the data to assess the significance of the observed differences. Despite good spatial and temporal correlations between the two fields some of the observed differences were significant at the 95% level. These were traced to the use of some different input data such as the use by CMAP of atoll gauges in the tropical Pacific and gauges uncorrected for wetting evaporation and aerodynamic effects. The former impacts the tropical ocean rain amounts and the latter is particularly noticeable in the Northern Hemisphere land areas. Also, the application of these datasets to the validation of atmospheric general circulation models is discussed.

* NOAA/NESDIS Office of Research and Applications, Camp Springs, Maryland.

+NOAA/NWS, National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Camp Springs, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Arnold Gruber, NOAA/NESDIS, Office of Research and Applications, Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304.
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