An increasing number of satellite-based rainfall products are now available in near–real time over the Internet to help meet the needs of weather forecasters and climate scientists, as well as a wide range of decision makers, including hydrologists, agriculturalists, emergency managers, and industrialists. Many of these satellite products are so newly developed that a comprehensive evaluation has not yet been undertaken. This article provides potential users of short-interval satellite rainfall estimates with information on the accuracy of such estimates. Since late 2002 the authors have been performing daily validation and intercomparisons of several operational satellite rainfall retrieval algorithms over Australia, the United States, and northwestern Europe. Short-range quantitative precipitation forecasts from four numerical weather prediction (NWP) models are also included for comparison.

Synthesis of four years of daily rainfall validation results shows that the satellite-derived estimates of precipitation occurrence, amount, and intensity are most accurate during the warm season and at lower latitudes, where the rainfall is primarily convective in nature. In contrast, the NWP models perform better than the satellite estimates during the cool season when non-convective precipitation is dominant. An optimal rain-monitoring strategy for remote regions might therefore judiciously combine information from both satellite and NWP models.

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Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia

NOAA/Climate Prediction Center, Camp Springs, Maryland

School of Geography, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom