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Clement Guilloteau, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Pierre Kirstetter, Jackson Tan, and George J. Huffman

Abstract

As more global satellite-derived precipitation products become available, it is imperative to evaluate them more carefully for providing guidance as to how well precipitation space–time features are captured for use in hydrologic modeling, climate studies, and other applications. Here we propose a space–time Fourier spectral analysis and define a suite of metrics that evaluate the spatial organization of storm systems, the propagation speed and direction of precipitation features, and the space–time scales at which a satellite product reproduces the variability of a reference “ground-truth” product (“effective resolution”). We demonstrate how the methodology relates to our physical intuition using the case study of a storm system with rich space–time structure. We then evaluate five high-resolution multisatellite products (CMORPH, GSMaP, IMERG-Early, IMERG-Final, and PERSIANN-CCS) over a period of 2 years over the southeastern United States. All five satellite products show generally consistent space–time power spectral density when compared to a reference ground gauge–radar dataset (GV-MRMS), revealing agreement in terms of average morphology and dynamics of precipitation systems. However, a deficit of spectral power at wavelengths shorter than 200 km and periods shorter than 4 h reveals that all satellite products are excessively “smooth.” The products also show low levels of spectral coherence with the gauge–radar reference at these fine scales, revealing discrepancies in capturing the location and timing of precipitation features. From the space–time spectral coherence, the IMERG-Final product shows superior ability in resolving the space–time dynamics of precipitation down to 200-km and 4-h scales compared to the other products.

Open access
Thomas C. van Leth, Hidde Leijnse, Aart Overeem, and Remko Uijlenhoet

Abstract

We investigate the spatiotemporal structure of rainfall at spatial scales from 7 m to over 200 km in the Netherlands. We used data from two networks of laser disdrometers with complementary interstation distances in two Dutch cities (comprising five and six disdrometers, respectively) and a Dutch nationwide network of 31 automatic rain gauges. The smallest aggregation interval for which raindrop size distributions were collected by the disdrometers was 30 s, while the automatic rain gauges provided 10-min rainfall sums. This study aims to supplement other micro-γ investigations (usually performed in the context of spatial rainfall variability within a weather radar pixel) with new data, while characterizing the correlation structure across an extended range of scales. To quantify the spatiotemporal variability, we employ a two-parameter exponential model fitted to the spatial correlograms and characterize the parameters of the model as a function of the temporal aggregation interval. This widely used method allows for a meaningful comparison with seven other studies across contrasting climatic settings all around the world. We also separately analyzed the intermittency of the rainfall observations. We show that a single parameterization, consisting of a two-parameter exponential spatial model as a function of interstation distance combined with a power-law model for decorrelation distance as a function of aggregation interval, can coherently describe rainfall variability (both spatial correlation and intermittency) across a wide range of scales. Limiting the range of scales to those typically found in micro-γ variability studies (including four of the seven studies to which we compare our results) skews the parameterization and reduces its applicability to larger scales.

Open access
Andrea Camplani, Daniele Casella, Paolo Sanò, and Giulia Panegrossi

Abstract

This paper describes a new Passive Microwave Empirical Cold Surface Classification Algorithm (PESCA) developed for snow-cover detection and characterization by using passive microwave satellite measurements. The main goal of PESCA is to support the retrieval of falling snow, since several studies have highlighted the influence of snow-cover radiative properties on the falling-snow passive microwave signature. The developed method is based on the exploitation of the lower-frequency channels (<90 GHz), common to most microwave radiometers. The method applied to the conically scanning Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) and the cross-track-scanning Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) is described in this paper. PESCA is based on a decision tree developed using an empirical method and verified using the AutoSnow product built from satellite measurements. The algorithm performance appears to be robust both for sensors in dry conditions (total precipitable water < 10 mm) and for mean surface elevation < 2500 m, independent of the cloud cover. The algorithm shows very good performance for cold temperatures (2-m temperature below 270 K) with a rapid decrease of the detection capabilities between 270 and 280 K, where 280 K is assumed as the maximum temperature limit for PESCA (overall detection statistics: probability of detection is 0.98 for ATMS and 0.92 for GMI, false alarm ratio is 0.01 for ATMS and 0.08 for GMI, and Heidke skill score is 0.72 for ATMS and 0.69 for GMI). Some inconsistencies found between the snow categories identified with the two radiometers are related to their different viewing geometries, spatial resolution, and temporal sampling. The spectral signatures of the different snow classes also appear to be different at high frequency (>90 GHz), indicating potential impact for snowfall retrieval. This method can be applied to other conically scanning and cross-track-scanning radiometers, including the future operational EUMETSAT Polar System Second Generation (EPS-SG) mission microwave radiometers.

Open access
Alberto Ortolani, Francesca Caparrini, Samantha Melani, Luca Baldini, and Filippo Giannetti

Abstract

Measuring rainfall is complex, due to the high temporal and spatial variability of precipitation, especially in a changing climate, but it is of great importance for all the scientific and operational disciplines dealing with rainfall effects on the environment, human activities, and economy. Microwave (MW) telecommunication links carry information on rainfall rates along their path, through signal attenuation caused by raindrops, and can become measurements of opportunity, offering inexpensive chances to augment information without deploying additional infrastructures, at the cost of some smart processing. Processing satellite telecom signals brings some specific complexities related to the effects of rainfall boundaries, melting layer, and nonweather attenuations, but with the potential to provide worldwide precipitation data with high temporal and spatial samplings. These measurements have to be processed according to the probabilistic nature of the information they carry. An ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF)-based method has been developed to dynamically retrieve rainfall fields in gridded domains, which manages such probabilistic information and exploits the high sampling rate of measurements. The paper presents the EnKF method with some representative tests from synthetic 3D experiments. Ancillary data are assumed as from worldwide-available operational meteorological satellites and models, for advection, initial and boundary conditions, and rain height. The method reproduces rainfall structures and quantities in a correct way, and also manages possible link outages. Its results are also computationally viable for operational implementation and applicable to different link observation geometries and characteristics.

Open access
Nobuyuki Utsumi, F. Joseph Turk, Ziad S. Haddad, Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter, and Hyungjun Kim

Abstract

Precipitation estimation based on passive microwave (MW) observations from low-Earth-orbiting satellites is one of the essential variables for understanding the global climate. However, almost all validation studies for such precipitation estimation have focused only on the surface precipitation rate. This study investigates the vertical precipitation profiles estimated by two passive MW-based retrieval algorithms, i.e., the emissivity principal components (EPC) algorithm and the Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF). The passive MW-based condensed water content profiles estimated from the Global Precipitation Measurement Microwave Imager (GMI) are validated using the GMI + Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar combined algorithm as the reference product. It is shown that the EPC generally underestimates the magnitude of the condensed water content profiles, described by the mean condensed water content, by about 20%–50% in the middle-to-high latitudes, while GPROF overestimates it by about 20%–50% in the middle-to-high latitudes and more than 50% in the tropics. Part of the EPC magnitude biases is associated with the representation of the precipitation type (i.e., convective and stratiform) in the retrieval algorithm. This suggests that a separate technique for precipitation type identification would aid in mitigating these biases. In contrast to the magnitude of the profile, the profile shapes are relatively well represented by these two passive MW-based retrievals. The joint analysis between the estimation performances of the vertical profiles and surface precipitation rate shows that the physically reasonable connections between the surface precipitation rate and the associated vertical profiles are achieved to some extent by the passive MW-based algorithms.

Open access
Allison E. Goodwell

Abstract

The spatial and temporal ordering of precipitation occurrence impacts ecosystems, streamflow, and water availability. For example, both large-scale climate patterns and local landscapes drive weather events, and the typical speeds and directions of these events moving across a basin dictate the timing of flows at its outlet. We address the predictability of precipitation occurrence at a given location, based on the knowledge of past precipitation at surrounding locations. We identify “dominant directions of precipitation influence” across the continental United States based on a gridded daily dataset. Specifically, we apply information theory–based measures that characterize dominant directions and strengths of spatial and temporal precipitation dependencies. On a national average, this dominant direction agrees with the prevalent direction of weather movement from west to east across the country, but regional differences reflect topographic divides, precipitation gradients, and different climatic drivers of precipitation. Trends in these information relationships and their correlations with climate indices over the past 70 years also show seasonal and spatial divides. This study expands upon a framework of information-based predictability to answer questions about spatial connectivity in addition to temporal persistence. The methods presented here are generally useful to understand many aspects of weather and climate variability.

Full access
Phu Nguyen, Mohammed Ombadi, Vesta Afzali Gorooh, Eric J. Shearer, Mojtaba Sadeghi, Soroosh Sorooshian, Kuolin Hsu, David Bolvin, and Martin F. Ralph

Abstract

This study presents the Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks–Dynamic Infrared Rain Rate (PDIR-Now) near-real-time precipitation dataset. This dataset provides hourly, quasi-global, infrared-based precipitation estimates at 0.04° × 0.04° spatial resolution with a short latency (15–60 min). It is intended to supersede the PERSIANN–Cloud Classification System (PERSIANN-CCS) dataset previously produced as the near-real-time product of the PERSIANN family. We first provide a brief description of the algorithm’s fundamentals and the input data used for deriving precipitation estimates. Second, we provide an extensive evaluation of the PDIR-Now dataset over annual, monthly, daily, and subdaily scales. Last, the article presents information on the dissemination of the dataset through the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing (CHRS) web-based interfaces. The evaluation, conducted over the period 2017–18, demonstrates the utility of PDIR-Now and its improvement over PERSIANN-CCS at all temporal scales. Specifically, PDIR-Now improves the estimation of rain/no-rain days as demonstrated by a critical success index (CSI) of 0.53 compared to 0.47 of PERSIANN-CCS. In addition, PDIR-Now improves the estimation of seasonal and diurnal cycles of precipitation as well as regional precipitation patterns erroneously estimated by PERSIANN-CCS. Finally, an evaluation is carried out to examine the performance of PDIR-Now in capturing two extreme events, Hurricane Harvey and a cluster of summer thunderstorms that occurred over the Netherlands, where it is shown that PDIR-Now adequately represents spatial precipitation patterns as well as subdaily precipitation rates with a correlation coefficient (CORR) of 0.64 for Hurricane Harvey and 0.76 for the Netherlands thunderstorms.

Open access
Chandra Rupa Rajulapati, Simon Michael Papalexiou, Martyn P. Clark, Saman Razavi, Guoqiang Tang, and John W. Pomeroy

Abstract

Global gridded precipitation products have proven essential for many applications ranging from hydrological modeling and climate model validation to natural hazard risk assessment. They provide a global picture of how precipitation varies across time and space, specifically in regions where ground-based observations are scarce. While the application of global precipitation products has become widespread, there is limited knowledge on how well these products represent the magnitude and frequency of extreme precipitation—the key features in triggering flood hazards. Here, five global precipitation datasets (MSWEP, CFSR, CPC, PERSIANN-CDR, and WFDEI) are compared to each other and to surface observations. The spatial variability of relatively high precipitation events (tail heaviness) and the resulting discrepancy among datasets in the predicted precipitation return levels were evaluated for the time period 1979–2017. The analysis shows that 1) these products do not provide a consistent representation of the behavior of extremes as quantified by the tail heaviness, 2) there is strong spatial variability in the tail index, 3) the spatial patterns of the tail heaviness generally match the Köppen–Geiger climate classification, and 4) the predicted return levels for 100 and 1000 years differ significantly among the gridded products. More generally, our findings reveal shortcomings of global precipitation products in representing extremes and highlight that there is no single global product that performs best for all regions and climates.

Full access
Zhe Li, Daniel B. Wright, Sara Q. Zhang, Dalia B. Kirschbaum, and Samantha H. Hartke

Abstract

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) constellation of spaceborne sensors provides a variety of direct and indirect measurements of precipitation processes. Such observations can be employed to derive spatially and temporally consistent gridded precipitation estimates either via data-driven retrieval algorithms or by assimilation into physically based numerical weather models. We compare the data-driven Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) and the assimilation-enabled NASA-Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) model against Stage IV reference precipitation for four major extreme rainfall events in the southeastern United States using an object-based analysis framework that decomposes gridded precipitation fields into storm objects. As an alternative to conventional “grid-by-grid analysis,” the object-based approach provides a promising way to diagnose spatial properties of storms, trace them through space and time, and connect their accuracy to storm types and input data sources. The evolution of two tropical cyclones are generally captured by IMERG and NU-WRF, while the less organized spatial patterns of two mesoscale convective systems pose challenges for both. NU-WRF rain rates are generally more accurate, while IMERG better captures storm location and shape. Both show higher skill in detecting large, intense storms compared to smaller, weaker storms. IMERG’s accuracy depends on the input microwave and infrared data sources; NU-WRF does not appear to exhibit this dependence. Findings highlight that an object-oriented view can provide deeper insights into satellite precipitation performance and that the satellite precipitation community should further explore the potential for “hybrid” data-driven and physics-driven estimates in order to make optimal usage of satellite observations.

Full access
Samantha H. Hartke, Daniel B. Wright, Dalia B. Kirschbaum, Thomas A. Stanley, and Zhe Li

Abstract

Many existing models that predict landslide hazards utilize ground-based sources of precipitation data. In locations where ground-based precipitation observations are limited (i.e., a vast majority of the globe), or for landslide hazard models that assess regional or global domains, satellite multisensor precipitation products offer a promising near-real-time alternative to ground-based data. NASA’s global Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness (LHASA) model uses the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) product to issue hazard “nowcasts” in near–real time for areas that are currently at risk for landsliding. Satellite-based precipitation estimates, however, can contain considerable systematic bias and random error, especially over mountainous terrain and during extreme rainfall events. This study combines a precipitation error modeling framework with a probabilistic adaptation of LHASA. Compared with the routine version of LHASA, this probabilistic version correctly predicts more of the observed landslides in the study region with fewer false alarms by high hazard nowcasts. This study demonstrates that improvements in landslide hazard prediction can be achieved regardless of whether the IMERG error model is trained using abundant ground-based precipitation observations or using far fewer and more scattered observations, suggesting that the approach is viable in data-limited regions. Results emphasize the importance of accounting for both random error and systematic satellite precipitation bias. The approach provides an example of how environmental prediction models can incorporate satellite precipitation uncertainty. Other applications such as flood and drought monitoring and forecasting could likely benefit from consideration of precipitation uncertainty.

Free access