The Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I), first placed into operation in July 1987, has been making measurements of earth-emitted radiation for over eight years. These data are used to estimate both atmospheric and surface hydrological parameters and to generate a time series of global monthly mean products averaged to a 1° lat × 1° long grid. Specifically, this includes monthly estimates of rainfall and its frequency, cloud liquid water and cloud frequency, water vapor, snow cover frequency, and sea ice frequency. This study uses seasonal mean values to demonstrate the spatial and temporal distributions of these hydrological variables. Examples of interannual variability such as the 1993 flooding in the Mississippi Valley and the 1992–93 snow cover changes over the United States are used to demonstrate the utility of these data for regional applications.

This content is only available as a PDF.


*NOAA/NESDIS, Office of Research and Applications, Satellite Research Laboratory, Microwave Sensing Group, Camp Springs, Maryland.

+UCAR Visiting Scientist Program, Boulder, Colorado.

#NOAA/Climate Prediction Center, Camp Springs, Maryland.