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Odin Marc, Romulo A. Jucá Oliveira, Marielle Gosset, Robert Emberson, and Jean-Philippe Malet

Abstract

Rainfall-induced landsliding is a global and systemic hazard that is likely to increase with the projections of increased frequency of extreme precipitation with current climate change. However, our ability to understand and mitigate landslide risk is strongly limited by the availability of relevant rainfall measurements in many landslide prone areas. In the last decade, global satellite multisensor precipitation products (SMPP) have been proposed as a solution, but very few studies have assessed their ability to adequately characterize rainfall events triggering landsliding. Here, we address this issue by testing the rainfall pattern retrieved by two SMPPs (IMERG and GSMaP) and one hybrid product [Multi-Source Weighted-Ensemble Precipitation (MSWEP)] against a large, global database of 20 comprehensive landslide inventories associated with well-identified storm events. We found that, after converting total rainfall amounts to an anomaly relative to the 10-yr return rainfall R *, the three products do retrieve the largest anomaly (of the last 20 years) during the major landslide event for many cases. However, the degree of spatial collocation of R * and landsliding varies from case to case and across products, and we often retrieved R * > 1 in years without reported landsliding. In addition, the few (four) landslide events caused by short and localized storms are most often undetected. We also show that, in at least five cases, the SMPP’s spatial pattern of rainfall anomaly matches landsliding less well than does ground-based radar rainfall pattern or lightning maps, underlining the limited accuracy of the SMPPs. We conclude on some potential avenues to improve SMPPs’ retrieval and their relation to landsliding.

Significance Statement

Rainfall-induced landsliding is a global hazard that is expected to increase as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Our ability to understand and mitigate this hazard is strongly limited by the lack of rainfall measurements in mountainous areas. Here, we perform the first global assessment of the potential of three high-resolution precipitation datasets, derived from satellite observations, to capture the rainfall characteristics of 20 storms that led to widespread landsliding. We find that, accounting for past extreme rainfall statistics (i.e., the rainfall returning every 10 years), most storms causing landslides are retrieved by the datasets. However, the shortest storms (i.e., ∼3 h) are often undetected, and the detailed spatial pattern of extreme rainfall often appears to be distorted. Our work opens new ways to study global landslide hazard but also warns against overinterpreting rainfall derived from satellites.

Free access
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
Wouter Dorigo, Stephan Dietrich, Filipe Aires, Luca Brocca, Sarah Carter, Jean-François Cretaux, David Dunkerley, Hiroyuki Enomoto, René Forsberg, Andreas Güntner, Michaela I. Hegglin, Rainer Hollmann, Dale F. Hurst, Johnny A. Johannessen, Christian Kummerow, Tong Lee, Kari Luojus, Ulrich Looser, Diego G. Miralles, Victor Pellet, Thomas Recknagel, Claudia Ruz Vargas, Udo Schneider, Philippe Schoeneich, Marc Schröder, Nigel Tapper, Valery Vuglinsky, Wolfgang Wagner, Lisan Yu, Luca Zappa, Michael Zemp, and Valentin Aich

ABSTRACT

Life on Earth vitally depends on the availability of water. Human pressure on freshwater resources is increasing, as is human exposure to weather-related extremes (droughts, storms, floods) caused by climate change. Understanding these changes is pivotal for developing mitigation and adaptation strategies. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) defines a suite of essential climate variables (ECVs), many related to the water cycle, required to systematically monitor Earth’s climate system. Since long-term observations of these ECVs are derived from different observation techniques, platforms, instruments, and retrieval algorithms, they often lack the accuracy, completeness, and resolution, to consistently characterize water cycle variability at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Here, we review the capability of ground-based and remotely sensed observations of water cycle ECVs to consistently observe the hydrological cycle. We evaluate the relevant land, atmosphere, and ocean water storages and the fluxes between them, including anthropogenic water use. Particularly, we assess how well they close on multiple temporal and spatial scales. On this basis, we discuss gaps in observation systems and formulate guidelines for future water cycle observation strategies. We conclude that, while long-term water cycle monitoring has greatly advanced in the past, many observational gaps still need to be overcome to close the water budget and enable a comprehensive and consistent assessment across scales. Trends in water cycle components can only be observed with great uncertainty, mainly due to insufficient length and homogeneity. An advanced closure of the water cycle requires improved model–data synthesis capabilities, particularly at regional to local scales.

Full 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
Kamil Mroz, Mario Montopoli, Alessandro Battaglia, Giulia Panegrossi, Pierre Kirstetter, and Luca Baldini

Abstract

Surface snowfall rate estimates from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission’s Core Observatory sensors and the CloudSat radar are compared to those from the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) radar composite product over the continental United States during the period from November 2014 to September 2020. The analysis includes the Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) retrieval and its single-frequency counterparts, the GPM Combined Radar Radiometer Algorithm (CORRA), the CloudSat Snow Profile product (2C-SNOW-PROFILE), and two passive microwave retrievals, i.e., the Goddard Profiling algorithm (GPROF) and the Snow Retrieval Algorithm for GMI (SLALOM). The 2C-SNOW retrieval has the highest Heidke skill score (HSS) for detecting snowfall among the products analyzed. SLALOM ranks second; it outperforms GPROF and the other GPM algorithms, all detecting only 30% of the snow events. Since SLALOM is trained with 2C-SNOW, it suggests that the optimal use of the information content in the GMI observations critically depends on the precipitation training dataset. All the retrievals underestimate snowfall rates by a factor of 2 compared to MRMS. Large discrepancies (RMSE of 0.7–1.5 mm h−1) between spaceborne and ground-based snowfall rate estimates are attributed to the complexity of the ice scattering properties and to the limitations of the remote sensing systems: the DPR instrument has low sensitivity, while the radiometric measurements are affected by the confounding effects of the background surface emissivity and of the emission of supercooled liquid droplet layers.

Open access
Wouter Dorigo, Stephan Dietrich, Filipe Aires, Luca Brocca, Sarah Carter, Jean-François Cretaux, David Dunkerley, Hiroyuki Enomoto, René Forsberg, Andreas Güntner, Michaela I. Hegglin, Rainer Hollmann, Dale F. Hurst, Johnny A. Johannessen, Chris Kummerow, Tong Lee, Kari Luojus, Ulrich Looser, Diego G. Miralles, Victor Pellet, Thomas Recknagel, Claudia Ruz Vargas, Udo Schneider, Philippe Schoeneich, Marc Schröder, Nigel Tapper, Valery Vuglinsky, Wolfgang Wagner, Lisan Yu, Luca Zappa, Michael Zemp, and Valentin Aich

Abstract

Life on Earth vitally depends on the availability of water. Human pressure on freshwater resources is increasing, as is human exposure to weather-related extremes (droughts, storms, floods) caused by climate change. Understanding these changes is pivotal for developing mitigation and adaptation strategies. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) defines a suite of Essential Climate Variables (ECVs), many related to the water cycle, required to systematically monitor the Earth's climate system. Since long-term observations of these ECVs are derived from different observation techniques, platforms, instruments, and retrieval algorithms, they often lack the accuracy, completeness, resolution, to consistently to characterize water cycle variability at multiple spatial and temporal scales.

Here, we review the capability of ground-based and remotely sensed observations of water cycle ECVs to consistently observe the hydrological cycle. We evaluate the relevant land, atmosphere, and ocean water storages and the fluxes between them, including anthropogenic water use. Particularly, we assess how well they close on multiple temporal and spatial scales. On this basis, we discuss gaps in observation systems and formulate guidelines for future water cycle observation strategies. We conclude that, while long-term water-cycle monitoring has greatly advanced in the past, many observational gaps still need to be overcome to close the water budget and enable a comprehensive and consistent assessment across scales. Trends in water cycle components can only be observed with great uncertainty, mainly due to insufficient length and homogeneity. An advanced closure of the water cycle requires improved model-data synthesis capabilities, particularly at regional to local scales.

Full access
Yalei You, S. Joseph Munchak, Christa Peters-Lidard, and Sarah Ringerud

Abstract

Rainfall retrieval algorithms for passive microwave radiometers often exploit the brightness temperature depression due to ice scattering at high-frequency channels (≥85 GHz) over land. This study presents an alternate method to estimate the daily rainfall amount using the emissivity temporal variation (i.e., Δe) under rain-free conditions at low-frequency channels (19, 24, and 37 GHz). Emissivity is derived from 10 passive microwave radiometers, including the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI), the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2), three Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounders (SSMIS), the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), and four Advanced Microwave Sounding Units-A (AMSU-A). Four different satellite combination schemes are used to derive the Δe for daily rainfall estimates. They are all 10 satellites, 5 imagers, 6 satellites with very different equator crossing times, and GMI only. Results show that Δe from all 10 satellites has the best performance with a correlation of 0.60 and RMSE of 6.52 mm, compared with the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) Final run product. The 6-satellites scheme has comparable performance with the all-10-satellites scheme. The 5-imagers scheme performs noticeably worse with a correlation of 0.49 and RMSE of 7.28 mm, while the GMI-only scheme performs the worst with a correlation of 0.25 and RMSE of 11.36 mm. The inferior performance from the 5-imagers and GMI-only schemes can be explained by the much longer revisit time, which cannot accurately capture the emissivity temporal variation.

Full access
Randy J. Chase, Stephen W. Nesbitt, and Greg M. McFarquhar

Abstract

With the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (GPM-DPR) in 2014, renewed interest in retrievals of snowfall in the atmospheric column has occurred. The current operational GPM-DPR retrieval largely underestimates surface snowfall accumulation. Here, a neural network (NN) trained on data that are synthetically derived from state-of-the-art ice particle scattering models and measured in situ particle size distributions (PSDs) is used to retrieve two parameters of the PSD: liquid equivalent mass-weighted mean diameter Dml and the liquid equivalent normalized intercept parameter Nwl. Evaluations against a test dataset showed statistically significantly improved ice water content (IWC) retrievals relative to a standard power-law approach and an estimate of the current GPM-DPR algorithm. Furthermore, estimated median percent errors (MPE) on the test dataset were −0.7%, +2.6%, and +1% for Dml, Nwl, and IWC, respectively. An evaluation on three case studies with collocated radar observations and in situ microphysical data shows that the NN retrieval has MPE of −13%, +120%, and +10% for Dml, Nwl, and IWC, respectively. The NN retrieval applied directly to GPM-DPR data provides improved snowfall retrievals relative to the default algorithm, removing the default algorithm’s ray-to-ray instabilities and recreating the high-resolution radar retrieval results to within 15% MPE. Future work should aim to improve the retrieval by including PSD data collected in more diverse conditions and rimed particles. Furthermore, different desired outputs such as the PSD shape parameter and snowfall rate could be included in future iterations.

Full access
Sybille Y. Schoger, Dmitri Moisseev, Annakaisa von Lerber, Susanne Crewell, and Kerstin Ebell

Abstract

Two power-law relations linking equivalent radar reflectivity factor Z e and snowfall rate S are derived for a K-band Micro Rain Radar (MRR) and for a W-band cloud radar. For the development of these Z e –S relationships, a dataset of calculated and measured variables is used. Surface-based video-disdrometer measurements were collected during snowfall events over five winters at the high-latitude site in Hyytiälä, Finland. The data from 2014 to 2018 include particle size distributions (PSD) and their fall velocities, from which snowflake masses were derived. The K- and W-band Z e values are computed using these surface-based observations and snowflake scattering properties as provided by T-matrix and single-particle scattering tables, respectively. The uncertainty analysis shows that the K-band snowfall-rate estimation is significantly improved by including the intercept parameter N 0 of the PSD calculated from concurrent disdrometer measurements. If N 0 is used to adjust the prefactor of the Z e –S relationship, the RMSE of the snowfall-rate estimate can be reduced from 0.37 to around 0.11 mm h−1. For W-band radar, a Z e –S relationship with constant parameters for all available snow events shows a similar uncertainty when compared with the method that includes the PSD intercept parameter. To demonstrate the performance of the proposed Z e –S relationships, they are applied to measurements of the MRR and the W-band microwave radar for Arctic clouds at the Arctic research base operated by the German Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the French Polar Institute Paul Emile Victor (IPEV) (AWIPEV) in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Norway. The resulting snowfall-rate estimates show good agreement with in situ snowfall observations while other Z e –S relationships from literature reveal larger differences.

Open access
Hooman Ayat, Jason P. Evans, Steven Sherwood, and Ali Behrangi

Abstract

High-resolution datasets offer the potential to improve our understanding of spatial and temporal precipitation patterns and storm structures. The goal of this study is to evaluate the similarities and differences of object-based storm characteristics as observed using space- or land-based sensors. The Method of Object-based Diagnostic Evaluation (MODE) Time Domain (MTD) is used to identify and track storm objects in two high-resolution merged datasets: the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) final product V06B and gauge-corrected ground-radar-based Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) quantitative precipitation estimations. Characteristics associated with landfalling hurricanes were also examined as a separate category of storm. The results reveal that IMERG and MRMS agree reasonably well across many object-based storm characteristics. However, there are some discrepancies that are statistically significant. MRMS storms are more concentrated, with smaller areas and higher peak intensities, which implies higher flash flood risks associated with the storms. On the other hand, IMERG storms can travel longer distances with a higher volume of precipitation, which implies higher risk of riverine flooding. Agreement between the datasets is higher for faster-moving hurricanes in terms of the averaged intensity. Finally, MRMS indicates a higher average precipitation intensity during the hurricane’s lifetime. However, in non-hurricanes, the opposite result was observed. This is likely related to MRMS having higher resolution; monitoring the hurricanes from many viewing angles, leading to different signal saturation properties compared to IMERG; and/or the dominance of droplet aggregation effects over evaporation effects at lower altitudes.

Full access