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Comparison of Rain Gauge Measurements in the Mid-Atlantic Region

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  • 1 Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • | 2 Computer Sciences Corporation, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia
  • | 3 Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

A comparative study of daily and monthly rainfall between research and operational gauges was conducted at the mid-Atlantic region. Fifty research tipping-bucket gauges were deployed to 20 sites where each site had dual or triple gauges. The gauges were in place to validate the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newly developed polarimetric radar rainfall estimate. For logistic purposes, these research gauges were collocated with operational gauges and were operated over a year at each site. Therefore, this is an experimental study, which involves a mixture of one to five sites of seven operational gauge networks.

A very good to excellent agreement between the two collocated research gauges at daily time scale raised the authors’ confidence to consider them as a reference before comparing with the operational gauges. Among operational networks, the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) weighing bucket and the Climate Reference Network and Forest Services tipping-bucket gauges demonstrated high performance for both daily and monthly rainfall, while the Federal Aviation Administration’s Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS) tipping-bucket gauges performed poorly. Among the other networks, the ASOS tipping-bucket and Cooperative observer program’s stick gauges seemed to be reliable for monthly rainfall, but not always for daily rainfall. The Virginia Agricultural Experimental Station (VAES) tipping-bucket gauges, on the other hand, had a mixture of high and low performance for daily and monthly rainfall. Unlike other gauge networks, VAES gauges were in place for long-term research applications.

Corresponding author address: Ali Tokay, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 613.1, Greenbelt, MD 20771.Email: ali.tokay-1@nasa.gov

Abstract

A comparative study of daily and monthly rainfall between research and operational gauges was conducted at the mid-Atlantic region. Fifty research tipping-bucket gauges were deployed to 20 sites where each site had dual or triple gauges. The gauges were in place to validate the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newly developed polarimetric radar rainfall estimate. For logistic purposes, these research gauges were collocated with operational gauges and were operated over a year at each site. Therefore, this is an experimental study, which involves a mixture of one to five sites of seven operational gauge networks.

A very good to excellent agreement between the two collocated research gauges at daily time scale raised the authors’ confidence to consider them as a reference before comparing with the operational gauges. Among operational networks, the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) weighing bucket and the Climate Reference Network and Forest Services tipping-bucket gauges demonstrated high performance for both daily and monthly rainfall, while the Federal Aviation Administration’s Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS) tipping-bucket gauges performed poorly. Among the other networks, the ASOS tipping-bucket and Cooperative observer program’s stick gauges seemed to be reliable for monthly rainfall, but not always for daily rainfall. The Virginia Agricultural Experimental Station (VAES) tipping-bucket gauges, on the other hand, had a mixture of high and low performance for daily and monthly rainfall. Unlike other gauge networks, VAES gauges were in place for long-term research applications.

Corresponding author address: Ali Tokay, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 613.1, Greenbelt, MD 20771.Email: ali.tokay-1@nasa.gov

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