Differences between the Surface Precipitation Estimates from the TRMM Precipitation Radar and Passive Microwave Radiometer Version 7 Products

Chuntao Liu Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, Texas

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Edward Zipser Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Abstract

With 15 yr of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) observations, the passive microwave radiometers [TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI)] and the precipitation radar (PR) report a close geographical distribution of annual precipitation between 36°S and 36°N. However, large discrepancies between PR and TMI precipitation retrievals are also found over several specific regions, such as central Africa, the Amazon, the tropical east Pacific, and north Indian Ocean. To understand these discrepancies, the PR near-surface and the TMI surface precipitation retrievals are compared at both pixel and precipitation system levels using collocated pixels and a precipitation feature database from 1998 to 2012. Over land, the TMI overestimates precipitation in deep and intense convective systems, but misses significant amounts of warm rainfall in shallow systems. Over the ocean, because of the partial beam filling of large footprints of the lower-frequency sensors, the TMI reports a larger precipitation area than the PR and underestimates the precipitation rate in the convective precipitation region. The TMI tends to overestimate precipitation compared to the PR in a large proportion of shallow systems over the tropical east Pacific and trade wind regions with large-scale descent. The PR tends to overestimate precipitation compared to the TMI in a large proportion of shallow systems over rainy oceans, such as the west Pacific and the Atlantic ITCZ. All these findings imply that there are still large uncertainties in the precipitation climatology over some regions. Further ground validation campaigns are still needed, especially over the ocean.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Chuntao Liu, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78412-5892. E-mail: chuntao.liu@tamucc.edu

Abstract

With 15 yr of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) observations, the passive microwave radiometers [TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI)] and the precipitation radar (PR) report a close geographical distribution of annual precipitation between 36°S and 36°N. However, large discrepancies between PR and TMI precipitation retrievals are also found over several specific regions, such as central Africa, the Amazon, the tropical east Pacific, and north Indian Ocean. To understand these discrepancies, the PR near-surface and the TMI surface precipitation retrievals are compared at both pixel and precipitation system levels using collocated pixels and a precipitation feature database from 1998 to 2012. Over land, the TMI overestimates precipitation in deep and intense convective systems, but misses significant amounts of warm rainfall in shallow systems. Over the ocean, because of the partial beam filling of large footprints of the lower-frequency sensors, the TMI reports a larger precipitation area than the PR and underestimates the precipitation rate in the convective precipitation region. The TMI tends to overestimate precipitation compared to the PR in a large proportion of shallow systems over the tropical east Pacific and trade wind regions with large-scale descent. The PR tends to overestimate precipitation compared to the TMI in a large proportion of shallow systems over rainy oceans, such as the west Pacific and the Atlantic ITCZ. All these findings imply that there are still large uncertainties in the precipitation climatology over some regions. Further ground validation campaigns are still needed, especially over the ocean.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Chuntao Liu, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78412-5892. E-mail: chuntao.liu@tamucc.edu
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