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Axel Andersson, Christian Klepp, Karsten Fennig, Stephan Bakan, Hartmut Grassl, and Jörg Schulz

Abstract

Today, latent heat flux and precipitation over the global ocean surface can be determined from microwave satellite data as a basis for estimating the related fields of the ocean surface freshwater flux. The Hamburg Ocean Atmosphere Parameters and Fluxes from Satellite Data (HOAPS) is the only generally available satellite-based dataset with consistently derived global fields of both evaporation and precipitation and hence of freshwater flux for the period 1987–2005. This paper presents a comparison of the evaporation E, precipitation P, and the resulting freshwater flux EP in HOAPS with recently available reference datasets from reanalysis and other satellite observation projects as well as in situ ship measurements. In addition, the humidity and wind speed input parameters for the evaporation are examined to identify sources for differences between the datasets. Results show that the general climatological patterns are reproduced by all datasets. Global mean time series often agree within about 10% of the individual products, while locally larger deviations may be found for all parameters. HOAPS often agrees better with the other satellite-derived datasets than with the in situ or the reanalysis data. The agreement usually improves in regions of good in situ sampling statistics. The biggest deviations of the evaporation parameter result from differences in the near-surface humidity estimates. The precipitation datasets exhibit large differences in highly variable regimes with the largest absolute differences in the ITCZ and the largest relative biases in the extratropical storm-track regions. The resulting freshwater flux estimates exhibit distinct differences in terms of global averages as well as regional biases. In comparison with long-term mean global river runoff data, the ocean surface freshwater balance is not closed by any of the compared fields. The datasets exhibit a positive bias in EP of 0.2–0.5 mm day−1, which is on the order of 10% of the evaporation and precipitation estimates.

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Song Yang, Fuzhong Weng, Banghua Yan, Ninghai Sun, and Mitch Goldberg

Abstract

A new intersensor calibration scheme is developed for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) to correct its scan-angle-dependent bias, the radar calibration beacon interference on the F-15 satellite, and other intersensor biases. The intersensor bias is characterized by the simultaneous overpass measurements with the F-13 SSM/I as a reference. This sensor data record (SDR) intersensor calibration procedure is routinely running at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is now used for reprocessing all SSM/I environmental data records (EDR), including total precipitable water (TPW) and surface precipitation. Results show that this scheme improves the consistency of the monthly SDR’s time series from different SSM/I sensors. Relative to the matched rain products from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, the bias of SSM/I monthly precipitation is reduced by 12% after intersensor calibration. TPW biases between sensors are reduced by 75% over the global ocean and 20% over the tropical ocean, respectively. The intersensor calibration reduces biases by 20.6%, 15.7%, and 6.5% for oceanic, land, and global precipitation, respectively. The TPW climate trend is 1.59% decade−1 (or 0.34 mm decade−1) for the global ocean and 1.39% decade−1 (or 0.63 mm decade−1) for the tropical ocean, indicating related trends decrease of 38% and 54%, respectively, from the uncalibrated SDRs. Results demonstrate the large impacts of this calibration on the TPW climate trend.

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J. J. Shi, W-K. Tao, T. Matsui, R. Cifelli, A. Hou, S. Lang, A. Tokay, N-Y. Wang, C. Peters-Lidard, G. Skofronick-Jackson, S. Rutledge, and W. Petersen

Abstract

One of the grand challenges of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission is to improve cold-season precipitation measurements in mid- and high latitudes through the use of high-frequency passive microwave radiometry. For this purpose, the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) with the Goddard microphysics scheme is coupled with a Satellite Data Simulation Unit (WRF–SDSU) to facilitate snowfall retrieval algorithms over land by providing a virtual cloud library and corresponding microwave brightness temperature measurements consistent with the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI). When this study was initiated, there were no prior published results using WRF at cloud-resolving resolution (1 km or finer) for high-latitude snow events. This study tested the Goddard cloud microphysics scheme in WRF for two different snowstorm events (a lake-effect event and a synoptic event between 20 and 22 January 2007) that took place over the Canadian CloudSat/Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) Validation Project (C3VP) site in Ontario, Canada. The 24-h-accumulated snowfall predicted by WRF with the Goddard microphysics was comparable to that observed by the ground-based radar for both events. The model correctly predicted the onset and termination of both snow events at the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments site. The WRF simulations captured the basic cloud patterns as seen by the ground-based radar and satellite [i.e., CloudSat and Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit B (AMSU-B)] observations, including the snowband featured in the lake event. The results reveal that WRF was able to capture the cloud macrostructure reasonably well. Sensitivity tests utilizing both the “2ICE” (ice and snow) and “3ICE” (ice, snow, and graupel) options in the Goddard microphysical scheme were also conducted. The domain- and time-averaged cloud species profiles from the WRF simulations with both microphysical options show identical results (due to weak vertical velocities and therefore the absence of large precipitating liquid or high-density ice particles like graupel). Both microphysics options produced an appreciable amount of liquid water, and the model cloud liquid water profiles compared well to the in situ C3VP aircraft measurements when only grid points in the vicinity of the flight paths were considered. However, statistical comparisons between observed and simulated radar echoes show that the model tended to have a high bias of several reflectivity decibels (dBZ), which shows that additional research is needed to improve the current cloud microphysics scheme for the extremely cold environment in high latitudes, despite the fact that the simulated ice/liquid water contents may have been reasonable for both events. Future aircraft observations are also needed to verify the existence of graupel in high-latitude continental snow events.

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Frank S. Marzano, Domenico Cimini, Tommaso Rossi, Daniele Mortari, Sabatino Di Michele, and Peter Bauer

Abstract

The potential of an elliptical-orbit Flower Constellation of Millimeter-Wave Radiometers (FLORAD) for humidity profile and precipitating cloud observations is analyzed and discussed. The FLORAD mission scientific requirements are aimed at the retrieval of hydrological properties of the troposphere, specifically water vapor, cloud liquid content, rainfall, and snowfall profiles. This analysis is built on the results already obtained in previous works and is specifically devoted to evaluate the possibility of (i) deploying an incremental configuration of a Flower constellation of six minisatellites, optimized to provide the maximum revisit time over the Mediterranean area or, more generally, midlatitudes (between ±35° and ±65°); and (ii) evaluating in a quantitative way the accuracy of a one-dimensional variational data assimilation (1D-Var) Bayesian retrieval scheme to derive hydrometeor profiles at quasi-global scale using an optimized set of millimeter-wave frequencies. The obtained results show that a revisit time over the Mediterranean area (latitude 25° 45′, longitude −10° 35′°) of less than about 1 and 0.5 h can be obtained with four satellites and six satellites in Flower elliptical orbits, respectively. The accuracy of the retrieved hydrometeor profiles over land and sea for a winter and summer season at several latitudes shows the beneficial performance from using a combination of channels at 89, 118, 183, and 229 GHz. A lack of lower frequencies, such as those below 50 GHz, reduces the sounding capability for cloud lower layers, but the temperature and humidity retrievals provide a useful hydrometeor profile constraint. The FLORAD mission is fully consistent with the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) scope and may significantly increase its space–time coverage. The concept of an incremental Flower constellation can ensure the flexibility to deploy a spaceborne system that achieves increasing coverage through separate launches of member spacecrafts. The choice of millimeter-wave frequencies provides the advantage of designing compact radiometers that comply well with the current technology of minisatellites (overall weight less than 500 kg). The overall budget of the FLORAD small mission might become appealing as an optimal compromise between retrieval performances and system complexity.

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Meike Kühnlein, Boris Thies, Thomas Nauß, and Jörg Bendix

Abstract

The potential of rainfall-rate assignment using Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Instrument (SEVIRI) data is investigated. For this purpose, a new conceptual model for precipitation processes in connection with midlatitude cyclones is developed, based on the assumption that high rainfall rates are linked to a high optical thickness and a large effective particle radius, whereas low rainfall rates are linked to a low optical thickness and a small effective particle radius. Reflection values in the 0.56–0.71-μm (VIS0.6) and 1.5–1.78-μm (NIR1.6) channels, which provide information about the optical thickness and the effective radius, are considered in lieu of the optical and microphysical cloud properties. An analysis of the relationship between VIS0.6 and NIR1.6 reflection and the ground-based rainfall rate revealed a high correlation between the sensor signal and the rainfall rate. Based on these findings, a method for rainfall-rate assignment as a function of VIS0.6 and NIR1.6 reflection is proposed. The validation of the proposed technique showed encouraging results, especially for temporal resolutions of 6 and 12 h. This is a significant improvement compared to existing IR retrievals, which obtain comparable results for monthly resolution. The existing relationship between the VIS0.6 and NIR1.6 reflection values and the ground-based rainfall rate is corroborated with the new conceptual model. The good validation results indicate the high potential for rainfall retrieval in the midlatitudes with the high spatial and temporal resolution provided by MSG SEVIRI.

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Shelley L. Knuth, Gregory J. Tripoli, Jonathan E. Thom, and George A. Weidner

Abstract

Measuring snowfall in the polar regions is an issue met with many complications. Across the Antarctic, ground-based precipitation measurements are only available from a sparse network of manned stations or field studies. Measurements from satellites promise to fill in gaps in time and space but are still in the early stages of development and require surface measurements for proper validation. Currently, measurements of accumulation from automated reporting stations are the only available means of tracking snow depth change over a broad area of the continent. The challenge remains in determining the cause of depth change by partitioning the impacts of blowing snow and precipitation. While a methodology for separating these two factors has yet to be developed, by comparing accumulation measurements with meteorological measurements, an assessment of whether these terms were a factor in snow depth change during an event can be made. This paper describes a field study undertaken between January 2005 and October 2006 designed to identify the influences of precipitation and horizontal snow transport on surface accumulation. Seven acoustic depth gauges were deployed at automatic weather stations (AWS) across the Ross Ice Shelf and Ross Sea regions of Antarctica to measure net accumulation changes. From these measurements, episodic events were identified and were compared with data from the AWS to determine the primary cause of depth change—precipitation or horizontal snow transport. Information regarding the local impacts of these two terms, as well as climatological information regarding snow depth change across this region, is also provided.

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Cristian Mitrescu, Tristan L’Ecuyer, John Haynes, Steven Miller, and Joseph Turk

Abstract

Identifying and quantifying the intensity of light precipitation at global scales is still a difficult problem for most of the remote sensing algorithms in use today. The variety of techniques and algorithms employed for such a task yields a rather wide spectrum of possible values for a given precipitation event, further hampering the understanding of cloud processes within the climate. The ability of CloudSat’s millimeter-wavelength Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) to profile not only cloud particles but also light precipitation brings some hope to the above problems. Introduced as version zero, the present work uses basic concepts of detection and retrieval of light precipitation using spaceborne radars. Based on physical principles of remote sensing, the radar model relies on the description of clouds and rain particles in terms of a drop size distribution function. Use of a numerical model temperature and humidity profile ensures the coexistence of mixed phases otherwise undetected by the CPR. It also provides grounds for evaluating atmospheric attenuation, important at this frequency. Related to the total attenuation, the surface response is used as an additional constraint in the retrieval algorithm. Practical application of the profiling algorithm includes a 1-yr preliminary analysis of global rainfall incidence and intensity. These results underscore once more the role of CloudSat rainfall products for improving and enhancing current estimates of global light rainfall, mostly at higher latitudes, with the goal of understanding its role in the global energy and water cycle.

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Ali Behrangi, Koulin Hsu, Bisher Imam, and Soroosh Sorooshian

Abstract

Two previously developed Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN) algorithms that incorporate cloud classification system (PERSIANN-CCS) and multispectral analysis (PERSIANN-MSA) are integrated and employed to analyze the role of cloud albedo from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-12 (GOES-12) visible (0.65 μm) channel in supplementing infrared (10.7 mm) data. The integrated technique derives finescale (0.04° × 0.04° latitude–longitude every 30 min) rain rate for each grid box through four major steps: 1) segmenting clouds into a number of cloud patches using infrared or albedo images; 2) classification of cloud patches into a number of cloud types using radiative, geometrical, and textural features for each individual cloud patch; 3) classification of each cloud type into a number of subclasses and assigning rain rates to each subclass using a multidimensional histogram matching method; and 4) associating satellite gridbox information to the appropriate corresponding cloud type and subclass to estimate rain rate in grid scale. The technique was applied over a study region that includes the U.S. landmass east of 115°W. One reference infrared-only and three different bispectral (visible and infrared) rain estimation scenarios were compared to investigate the technique’s ability to address two major drawbacks of infrared-only methods: 1) underestimating warm rainfall and 2) the inability to screen out no-rain thin cirrus clouds. Radar estimates were used to evaluate the scenarios at a range of temporal (3 and 6 hourly) and spatial (0.04°, 0.08°, 0.12°, and 0.24° latitude–longitude) scales. Overall, the results using daytime data during June–August 2006 indicate that significant gain over infrared-only technique is obtained once albedo is used for cloud segmentation followed by bispectral cloud classification and rainfall estimation. At 3-h, 0.04° resolution, the observed improvement using bispectral information was about 66% for equitable threat score and 26% for the correlation coefficient. At coarser 0.24° resolution, the gains were 34% and 32% for the two performance measures, respectively.

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Daniel Vila, Ralph Ferraro, and Hilawe Semunegus

Abstract

Global monthly rainfall estimates have been produced from more than 20 years of measurements from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program series of Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I). This is the longest passive microwave dataset available to analyze the seasonal, annual, and interannual rainfall variability on a global scale. The primary algorithm used in this study is an 85-GHz scattering-based algorithm over land, while a combined 85-GHz scattering and 19/37-GHz emission is used over ocean. The land portion of this algorithm is one of the components of the blended Global Precipitation Climatology Project rainfall climatology. Because previous SSM/I processing was performed in real time, only a basic quality control (QC) procedure had been employed to avoid unrealistic values in the input data. A more sophisticated, statistical-based QC procedure on the daily data grids (antenna temperature) was developed to remove unrealistic values not detected in the original database and was employed to reprocess the rainfall product using the current version of the algorithm for the period 1992–2007. Discrepancies associated with the SSM/I-derived monthly rainfall products are characterized through comparisons with various gauge-based and other satellite-derived rainfall estimates. A substantial reduction in biases was observed as a result of this QC scheme. This will yield vastly improved global rainfall datasets.

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Tufa Dinku, Franklyn Ruiz, Stephen J. Connor, and Pietro Ceccato

Abstract

Seven different satellite rainfall estimates are evaluated at daily and 10-daily time scales and a spatial resolution of 0.25° latitude/longitude. The reference data come from a relatively dense station network of about 600 rain gauges over Colombia. This region of South America has a very complex terrain with mountain ranges that form the northern tip of the Andes Mountains, valleys between the mountain ranges, and a vast plain that is part of the Amazon. The climate is very diverse with an extremely wet Pacific coast, a dry region in the north, and different rainfall regimes between the two extremes. The evaluated satellite rainfall products are the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission 3B42 and 3B42RT products, the NOAA/Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH), Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Network (PERSIANN), the Naval Research Laboratory’s blended product (NRLB), and two versions of the Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation moving vector with Kalman filter (GSMaP_MVK and GSMaP_MVK+). The validation and intercomparison of these products is done for the whole as well as different parts of the country. Validation results are reasonably good for daily rainfall over such complex terrain. The best results were obtained for the eastern plain, and the performance of the products was relatively poor over the Pacific coast. In comparing the different satellite products, it was seen that PERSIANN and GSMaP-MVK exhibited poor performance, with significant overestimation by PERSSIAN and serious underestimation by GSMaP-MVK. CMORPH and GSMaP-MVK+ exhibited the best performance among the products evaluated here.

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