The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) was established by the World Climate Research Programme to produce global analyses of area- and time-averaged precipitation for use in climate research. To achieve the required spatial coverage, the GPCP uses simple rainfall estimates derived from IR and microwave satellite observations. In this paper, we describe the GPCP and its first Algorithm Intercomparison Project (AIP/1), which compared a variety of rainfall estimates derived from Geostationary Meteorological Satellite visible and IR observations and Special Sensor Microwave/Imager microwave observations with rainfall derived from a combination of radar and raingage data over the Japanese islands and the adjacent ocean regions during the June and mid-July through mid-August periods of 1989. To investigate potential improvements in the use of satellite IR data for the estimation of large-scale rainfall for the GPCP, the relationship between rainfall and the fractional coverage of cold clouds in the AIP/1 dataset is examined. Linear regressions between fractional coverage and rainfall are analyzed for a number of latitude-longitude areas and for a range of averaging times. The results show distinct differences in the character of the relationship for different portions of the area. In general, to the south and east of the mountainous axis of Japan, rainfall and fractional coverage are highly correlated for thresholds colder than 245 K, and correlations can be increased by averaging in space and in time up to the dominant period of the precipitation events. To the north and west of the axis, the correlations between rainfall and fractional coverage, while generally smaller for all scales, are highest for thresholds warmer than 245 K. The proportional coefficients relating rainfall to fractional coverage at cold thresholds, however, differ greatly between the two periods and both differ significantly from those found for the GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Program) AtlanticTropical Experiment. These results suggest that the simple IR-based estimation technique currently used in the GPCP can be used to estimate rainfall for global tropical and subtropical areas, provided that a method for adjusting the proportional coefficient for varying areas and seasons can be determined.

This content is only available as a PDF.


+National Meteorological Center, W/NMC, NOAA/NWS, Washington, D.C.

*University Corporation for Atmospheric Research postdoctoral visitor.