An Update on the Oceanic Precipitation Rate and Its Zonal Distribution in Light of Advanced Observations from Space

Ali Behrangi Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Graeme Stephens Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Robert F. Adler Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

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George J. Huffman NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Bjorn Lambrigtsen Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Matthew Lebsock Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Abstract

This study contributes to the estimation of the global mean and zonal distribution of oceanic precipitation rate using complementary information from advanced precipitation measuring sensors and provides an independent reference to assess current precipitation products. Precipitation estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and CloudSat cloud profiling radar (CPR) were merged, as the two complementary sensors yield an unprecedented range of sensitivity to quantify rainfall from drizzle through the most intense rates. At higher latitudes, where TRMM PR does not exist, precipitation estimates from Aqua’s Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) complemented CloudSat CPR to capture intense precipitation rates. The high sensitivity of CPR allows estimation of snow rate, an important type of precipitation at high latitudes, not directly observed in current merged precipitation products. Using the merged precipitation estimate from the CloudSat, TRMM, and Aqua platforms (this estimate is abbreviated to MCTA), the authors’ estimate for 3-yr (2007–09) near-global (80°S–80°N) oceanic mean precipitation rate is ~2.94 mm day−1. This new estimate of mean global ocean precipitation is about 9% higher than that of the corresponding Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) value (2.68 mm day−1) and about 4% higher than that of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP; 2.82 mm day−1). Furthermore, MCTA suggests distinct differences in the zonal distribution of precipitation rate from that depicted in GPCP and CMAP, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.

Corresponding author address: Ali Behrangi, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, MS 233-304, Pasadena, CA 91109. E-mail: ali.behrangi@jpl.nasa.gov

Abstract

This study contributes to the estimation of the global mean and zonal distribution of oceanic precipitation rate using complementary information from advanced precipitation measuring sensors and provides an independent reference to assess current precipitation products. Precipitation estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and CloudSat cloud profiling radar (CPR) were merged, as the two complementary sensors yield an unprecedented range of sensitivity to quantify rainfall from drizzle through the most intense rates. At higher latitudes, where TRMM PR does not exist, precipitation estimates from Aqua’s Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) complemented CloudSat CPR to capture intense precipitation rates. The high sensitivity of CPR allows estimation of snow rate, an important type of precipitation at high latitudes, not directly observed in current merged precipitation products. Using the merged precipitation estimate from the CloudSat, TRMM, and Aqua platforms (this estimate is abbreviated to MCTA), the authors’ estimate for 3-yr (2007–09) near-global (80°S–80°N) oceanic mean precipitation rate is ~2.94 mm day−1. This new estimate of mean global ocean precipitation is about 9% higher than that of the corresponding Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) value (2.68 mm day−1) and about 4% higher than that of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP; 2.82 mm day−1). Furthermore, MCTA suggests distinct differences in the zonal distribution of precipitation rate from that depicted in GPCP and CMAP, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.

Corresponding author address: Ali Behrangi, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, MS 233-304, Pasadena, CA 91109. E-mail: ali.behrangi@jpl.nasa.gov
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