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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
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
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
Ali Tokay
,
Annakaisa von Lerber
,
Claire Pettersen
,
Mark S. Kulie
,
Dmitri N. Moisseev
, and
David B. Wolff

Abstract

Performance of the Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP) for estimating the snow water equivalent (SWE) is evaluated through a comparative study with the collocated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service snow stake field measurements. The PIP together with a vertically pointing radar, a weighing bucket gauge, and a laser-optical disdrometer was deployed at the NWS Marquette, Michigan, office building for a long-term field study supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission Ground Validation program. The site was also equipped with a weather station. During the 2017/18 winter, the PIP functioned nearly uninterrupted at frigid temperatures accumulating 2345.8 mm of geometric snow depth over a total of 499 h. This long record consists of 30 events, and the PIP-retrieved and snow stake field measured SWE differed less than 15% in every event. Two of the major events with the longest duration and the highest accumulation are examined in detail. The particle mass with a given diameter was much lower during a shallow, colder, uniform lake-effect event than in the deep, less cold, and variable synoptic event. This study demonstrated that the PIP is a robust instrument for operational use, and is reliable for deriving the bulk properties of falling snow.

Full access
Yagmur Derin
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
, and
Jonathan J. Gourley

Abstract

As a fundamental water flux, quantitative understanding of precipitation is important to understand and manage water systems under a changing climate, especially in transition regions such as the coastal interface between land and ocean. This work aims to assess the uncertainty in precipitation detection over the land–coast–ocean continuum in the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) V06B product. It is examined over three coastal regions of the United States—the West Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the East Coast, all of which are characterized by different topographies and precipitation climatologies. Detection capabilities are contrasted over different surfaces (land, coast, and ocean). A novel and integrated approach traces the IMERG detection performance back to its components (passive microwave, infrared, and morphing-based estimates). The analysis is performed by using high-resolution, high-quality Ground Validation Multi-Radar/Multi-Sensor (GV-MRMS) rainfall estimates as ground reference. The best detection performances are reported with PMW estimates (hit rates in the range [25%–39%]), followed by morphing ([20%–34%]), morphing+IR ([17%–27%]) and IR ([11%–16%]) estimates. Precipitation formation mechanisms play an important role, especially in the West Coast where orographic processes challenge detection. Further, precipitation typology is shown to be a strong driver of IMERG detection. Over the ocean, IMERG detection is generally better but suffers from false alarms ([10%–53%]). Overall, IMERG displays nonhomogeneous precipitation detection capabilities tracing back to its components. Results point toward a similar behavior across various land–coast–ocean continuum regions of the CONUS, which suggests that results can be potentially transferred to other coastal regions of the world.

Full 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
Pin-Lun Li
,
Liao-Fan Lin
, and
Chia-Jeng Chen

ABSTRACT

Satellite and model precipitation such as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) data are valuable in hydrometeorological applications. This study investigates the performance of various satellite and model precipitation products in Taiwan from 2015 to 2017, including data derived from the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM Early and Final Runs (IMERG_E and IMERG_F), Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation in near–real time (GSMaP_NRT), and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. We assess these products by comparing them against data collected from 304 surface stations and gauge-based gridded data. Our assessment emphasizes factors influential in precipitation estimation, such as season, temperature, elevation, and extreme event. Further, we assess the hydrological response to each precipitation product via continuous flow simulation in two selected watersheds. The results indicate that the performance of these precipitation products is subject to seasonal and regional variations. The satellite products (i.e., IMERG and GSMaP) perform better than the model (i.e., WRF) in the warm season and vice versa in the cold season, most apparently in northern Taiwan. For selected extreme events, WRF can simulate better rainfall amount and distribution. The seasonal and regional variations in precipitation estimation are also reflected in flow simulations: IMERG in general produces the most rational flow simulation, GSMaP tends to overestimate and be least useful for hydrological applications, while WRF simulates high flows that show accurate time to the peak flows and are better in the southern watershed.

Full 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