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Daniel J. Cecil
,
Michael B. Solomon
,
Retha Mecikalski
, and
Kenneth D. Leppert II

Abstract

Using passive microwave brightness temperatures Tb from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) and hydrometeor identification (HID) data from dual-polarization ground radars, empirical lookup tables are developed for a multifrequency estimation of the likelihood a precipitation column includes certain hydrometeor types, as a function of Tb . Eight years of collocated Tb and HID data from the GPM Validation Network are used for development and testing of the GMI-based HID retrieval, with 2015–20 used for training and 2021–22 used for testing the GMI-based HID retrieval. The occurrence of profiles with hail and graupel are both slightly underpredicted by the lookup tables, but the percentage of profiles predicted is highly correlated with the percentage observed (0.98 correlation coefficient for hail and 0.99 for graupel). By having snow appear before rain in the hierarchy, the sample size for rain, without ice aloft, is fairly small, and the percentage of rain profiles is less than snow for all Tb .

Open access
Daniel C. Watters
,
Patrick N. Gatlin
,
David T. Bolvin
,
George J. Huffman
,
Robert Joyce
,
Pierre Kirstetter
,
Eric J. Nelkin
,
Sarah Ringerud
,
Jackson Tan
,
Jianxin Wang
, and
David Wolff

Abstract

NASA’s multisatellite precipitation product from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) product, is validated over tropical and high-latitude oceans from June 2014 to August 2021. This oceanic study uses the GPM Validation Network’s island-based radars to assess IMERG when the GPM Core Observatory’s Microwave Imager (GMI) observes precipitation at these sites (i.e., IMERG-GMI). Error tracing from the Level 3 (gridded) IMERG V06B product back through to the input Level 2 (satellite footprint) Goddard Profiling Algorithm GMI V05 climate (GPROF-CLIM) product quantifies the errors separately associated with each step in the gridding and calibration of the estimates from GPROF-CLIM to IMERG-GMI. Mean relative bias results indicate that IMERG-GMI V06B overestimates Alaskan high-latitude oceanic precipitation by +147% and tropical oceanic precipitation by +12% with respect to surface radars. GPROF-CLIM V05 overestimates Alaskan oceanic precipitation by +15%, showing that the IMERG algorithm’s calibration adjustments to the input GPROF-CLIM precipitation estimates increase the mean relative bias in this region. In contrast, IMERG adjustments are minimal over tropical waters with GPROF-CLIM overestimating oceanic precipitation by +14%. This study discovered that the IMERG V06B gridding process incorrectly geolocated GPROF-CLIM V05 precipitation estimates by 0.1° eastward in the latitude band 75°N–75°S, which has been rectified in the IMERG V07 algorithm. Correcting for the geolocation error in IMERG-GMI V06B improved oceanic statistics, with improvements greater in tropical waters than Alaskan waters. This error tracing approach enables a high-precision diagnosis of how different IMERG algorithm steps contribute to and mitigate errors, demonstrating the importance of collaboration between evaluation studies and algorithm developers.

Significance Statement

Evaluation of IMERG’s oceanic performance is very limited to date. This study uses the GPM Validation Network to conduct the first extensive assessment of IMERG V06B at its native resolution over both high-latitude and tropical oceans, and traces errors in IMERG-GMI back through to the input GPROF-CLIM GMI product. IMERG-GMI overestimates tropical oceanic precipitation (+12%) and strongly overestimates Alaskan oceanic precipitation (+147%) with respect to the island-based radars studied. IMERG’s GMI estimates are assessed as these should be the optimal estimates within the multisatellite product due to the GMI’s status as calibrator of the GPM passive microwave constellation.

Open access
Riku Shimizu
,
Shoichi Shige
,
Toshio Iguchi
,
Cheng-Ku Yu
, and
Lin-Wen Cheng

Abstract

The Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR), which consists of a Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) and a Ka-band precipitation radar (KaPR) on board the GPM Core Observatory, cannot observe precipitation at low altitudes near the ground contaminated by surface clutter. This near-surface region is called the blind zone. DPR estimates the clutter-free bottom (CFB), which is the lowest altitude not included in the blind zone, and estimates precipitation at altitudes higher than the CFB. High CFBs, which are common over mountainous areas, represent obstacles to detection of shallow precipitation and estimation of low-level enhanced precipitation. We compared KuPR data with rain gauge data from Da-Tun Mountain of northern Taiwan acquired from March 2014 to February 2020. A total of 12 cases were identified in which the KuPR missed some rainfall with intensity of >10 mm h−1 that was observed by rain gauges. Comparison of KuPR profile and ground-based radar profile revealed that shallow precipitation in the KuPR blind zone was missed because the CFB was estimated to be higher than the lower bound of the range free from surface echoes. In the original operational algorithm, CFB was estimated using only the received power data of the KuPR. In this study, the CFB was identified by the sharp increase in the difference between the received powers of the KuPR and the KaPR at altitude affected by surface clutter. By lowering the CFB, the KuPR succeeded in detection and estimation of shallow precipitation.

Significance Statement

The Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) on board the GPM Core Observatory cannot capture precipitation in the low-altitude region near the ground contaminated by surface clutter. This region is called the blind zone. The DPR estimates the clutter-free bottom (CFB), which is the lower bound of the range free from surface echoes, and uses data higher than CFB. DPR consists of a Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) and a Ka-band precipitation radar (KaPR). KuPR missed some shallow precipitation more than 10 mm h−1 in the blind zone over Da-Tun Mountain of northern Taiwan because of misjudged CFB estimation. Using both the KuPR and the KaPR, we improved the CFB estimation algorithm, which lowered the CFB, narrowed the blind zone, and improved the capability to detect shallow precipitation.

Open access
Zhi Li
,
Yixin Wen
,
Liang Liao
,
David Wolff
,
Robert Meneghini
, and
Terry Schuur

Abstract

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have a long and successful history of weather radar research. The NOAA ground-based radars—WSR-88D network—provide nationwide precipitation observations and estimates with advanced polarimetric capability. As a counterpart, the NASA–JAXA spaceborne radar—the Global Precipitation Measurement Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (GPM DPR)—has global coverage and higher vertical resolution than ground-based radars. While significant advances from both NOAA’s WSR-88D network and NASA–JAXA’s spaceborne radar DPR have been made, no systematic comparisons between the WSR-88D network and the DPR have been done. This study for the first time generates nationwide comprehensive comparisons at 136 WSR-88D radar sites from 2014 to 2020. Systematic differences in reflectivity are found, with ground radar reflectivity on average 2.4 dB smaller than that of the DPR (DPR version 6). This research found the discrepancies between WSR-88D and DPR arise from different calibration standards, signal attenuation correction, and differences in the ground and spaceborne scattering volumes. The recently updated DPR version 7 product improves rain detection and attenuation corrections, effectively reducing the overall average WSR-88D and DPR reflectivity differences to 1.0 dB. The goal of this study is to examine the systematic differences of radar reflectivity between the NOAA WSR-88D network and the NASA–JAXA DPR and to draw attention to radar-application users in recognizing their differences. Further investigation into understanding and alleviating the systematic bias between the two platforms is needed.

Open access
Padmini Ponukumati
,
Azharuddin Mohammed
, and
Satish Regonda

Abstract

Satellite-based rainfall estimates are a great resource for data-scarce regions, including urban regions, because of its finer resolution. Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) is a widely used product and is evaluated at a city scale for the Hyderabad region using two different ground truths, i.e., India Meteorological Department (IMD) gridded rainfall and Telangana State Development Planning Society (TSDPS) automatic weather station (AWS) measured rainfall. The IMERG rainfall estimates are evaluated on multiple spatial and temporal scales as well as on a rainfall event scale. Both continuous and categorical verification metrics suggest good performance of IMERG on the daily scale; however, relatively decreased performance was observed on the hourly scale. Underestimated and overestimated IMERG estimates with respect to IMD gridded rainfall and AWS measured rainfall, respectively, suggest the performance depends on type of ground truth. Unlike categorical metrics, RMSE and PBIAS have a pattern implying a systematic error with respect to rainfall amount. Further, sample size, diurnal variations, and season are found to have a role in IMERG estimates’ performance. Temporal aggregation of hourly to daily time scales showed the improved IMERG performance; however, no spatial-scale dependence was observed among zonewise and Hyderabad region–wise rainfall estimates. Comparison of raw and bias-corrected IMERG rainfall-based intensity–duration–frequency (IDF) curves with corresponding hourly rain gauge IDF curves showcases the value addition via simple bias correction techniques. Overall, the study suggests the IMERG estimates can be used as an alternative data source, and it can be further improved by modifying the retrieval algorithm.

Significance Statement

Many urban regions are typically data sparse, which limits scientific understanding and reliable engineering designs of various urban hydrometeorology-relevant tasks, including climatological and extreme rainfall characterization, flood hazard assessment, and stormwater management systems. Satellite rainfall estimates come as a great resource and Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) acts as a best alternative. The Hyderabad region, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in India, is selected to analyze the widely used satellite estimates, i.e., retrievals for GPM. The study observed inaccuracies in the IMERG estimates that varied with rainfall magnitudes and space and time scales; nonetheless, the estimates can be used as an alternative data source for decision-making such as whether rain exceeds a certain threshold or not.

Free access
Ali Tokay
,
Liang Liao
,
Robert Meneghini
,
Charles N. Helms
,
S. Joseph Munchak
,
David B. Wolff
, and
Patrick N. Gatlin

Abstract

Parameters of the normalized gamma particle size distribution (PSD) have been retrieved from the Precipitation Image Package (PIP) snowfall observations collected during the International Collaborative Experiment–PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic winter games (ICE-POP 2018). Two of the gamma PSD parameters, the mass-weighted particle diameter D mass and the normalized intercept parameter NW , have median values of 1.15–1.31 mm and 2.84–3.04 log(mm−1 m−3), respectively. This range arises from the choice of the relationship between the maximum versus equivalent diameter, D mxD eq, and the relationship between the Reynolds and Best numbers, Re–X. Normalization of snow water equivalent rate (SWER) and ice water content W by NW reduces the range in NW , resulting in well-fitted power-law relationships between SWER/NW and D mass and between W/NW and D mass. The bulk descriptors of snowfall are calculated from PIP observations and from the gamma PSD with values of the shape parameter μ ranging from −2 to 10. NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, which adopted the normalized gamma PSD, assumes μ = 2 and 3 in its two separate algorithms. The mean fractional bias (MFB) of the snowfall parameters changes with μ, where the functional dependence on μ depends on the specific snowfall parameter of interest. The MFB of the total concentration was underestimated by 0.23–0.34 when μ = 2 and by 0.29–0.40 when μ = 3, whereas the MFB of SWER had a much narrower range (from −0.03 to 0.04) for the same μ values.

Free access
Gerald G. Mace
,
Alain Protat
,
Sally Benson
, and
Paul McGlynn

Abstract

We use dual-polarization C-band data collected in the Southern Ocean to examine the properties of snow observed during a voyage in the austral summer of 2018. Using existing forward modeling formalisms based on an assumption of Rayleigh scattering by soft spheroids, an optimal estimation algorithm is implemented to infer snow properties from horizontally polarized radar reflectivity, the differential radar reflectivity, and the specific differential phase. From the dual-polarization observables, we estimate ice water content qi , the mass-mean particle size Dm , and the exponent of the mass–dimensional relationship bm that, with several assumptions, allow for evaluation of snow bulk density, and snow number concentration. Upon evaluating the uncertainties associated with measurement and forward model errors, we determine that the algorithm can retrieve qi , Dm , and bm within single-pixel uncertainties conservatively estimated in the range 120%, 60%, and 40%, respectively. Applying the algorithm to open-cellular convection in the Southern Ocean, we find evidence for secondary ice formation processes within multicellular complexes. In stratiform precipitation systems we find snow properties and infer processes that are distinctly different from the shallow convective systems with evidence for riming and aggregation being common. We also find that embedded convection within the frontal system produces precipitation properties consistent with graupel. Examining 5 weeks of data, we show that snow in open-cellular cumulus has higher overall bulk density than snow in stratiform precipitation systems with implications for interpreting measurements from space-based active remote sensors.

Open access
Ali Tokay
,
Charles N. Helms
,
Kwonil Kim
,
Patrick N. Gatlin
, and
David B. Wolff

Abstract

Improving estimation of snow water equivalent rate (SWER) from radar reflectivity (Ze), known as a SWER(Ze) relationship, is a priority for NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission ground validation program as it is needed to comprehensively validate spaceborne precipitation retrievals. This study investigates the performance of eight operational and four research-based SWER(Ze) relationships utilizing Precipitation Imaging Probe (PIP) observations from the International Collaborative Experiment for Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (ICE-POP 2018) field campaign. During ICE-POP 2018, there were 10 snow events that are classified by synoptic conditions as either cold low or warm low, and a SWER(Ze) relationship is derived for each event. Additionally, a SWER(Ze) relationship is derived for each synoptic classification by merging all events within each class. Two new types of SWER(Ze) relationships are derived from PIP measurements of bulk density and habit classification. These two physically based SWER(Ze) relationships provided superior estimates of SWER when compared to the operational, event-specific, and synoptic SWER(Ze) relationships. For estimates of the event snow water equivalent total, the event-specific, synoptic, and best-performing operational SWER(Ze) relationships outperformed the physically based SWER(Ze) relationship, although the physically based relationships still performed well. This study recommends using the density or habit-based SWER(Ze) relationships for microphysical studies, whereas the other SWER(Ze) relationships are better suited toward hydrologic application.

Free access
Jackson Tan
,
Nayeong Cho
,
Lazaros Oreopoulos
, and
Pierre Kirstetter

Abstract

Precipitation retrievals from passive microwave satellite observations form the basis of many widely used precipitation products, but the performance of the retrievals depends on numerous factors such as surface type and precipitation variability. Previous evaluation efforts have identified bias dependence on precipitation regime, which may reflect the influence on retrievals of recurring factors. In this study, the concept of a regime-based evaluation of precipitation from the Goddard profiling (GPROF) algorithm is extended to cloud regimes. Specifically, GPROF V05 precipitation retrievals under four different cloud regimes are evaluated against ground radars over the United States. GPROF is generally able to accurately retrieve the precipitation associated with both organized convection and less organized storms, which collectively produce a substantial fraction of global precipitation. However, precipitation from stratocumulus systems is underestimated over land and overestimated over water. Similarly, precipitation associated with trade cumulus environments is underestimated over land, while biases over water depend on the sensor’s channel configuration. By extending the evaluation to more sensors and suppressed environments, these results complement insights previously obtained from precipitation regimes, thus demonstrating the potential of cloud regimes in categorizing the global atmosphere into discrete systems.

Significance Statement

To understand how the accuracy of satellite precipitation depends on weather conditions, we compare the satellite estimates of precipitation against ground radars in the United States, using cloud regimes as a proxy for different recurring atmospheric systems. Consistent with previous studies, we found that errors in the satellite precipitation vary under different regimes. Satellite precipitation is, reassuringly, more accurate for storm systems that produce intense precipitation. However, in systems that produce weak or isolated precipitation, the errors are larger due to retrieval limitations. These findings highlight the important role of atmospheric states on the accuracy of satellite precipitation and the potential of cloud regimes for categorizing the global atmosphere.

Full access
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