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  • 12th International Precipitation Conference (IPC12) x
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Sarah Ringerud, Christa Peters-Lidard, Joe Munchak, and Yalei You


Accurate, physically based precipitation retrieval over global land surfaces is an important goal of the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission (GPM). This is a difficult problem for the passive microwave constellation, as the signal over radiometrically warm land surfaces in the microwave frequencies means that the measurements used are indirect and typically require inferring some type of relationship between an observed scattering signal and precipitation at the surface. GPM, with collocated radiometer and dual-frequency radar, is an excellent tool for tackling this problem and improving global retrievals. In the years following the launch of the GPM Core Observatory satellite, physically based passive microwave retrieval of precipitation over land continues to be challenging. Validation efforts suggest that the operational GPM passive microwave algorithm, the Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF), tends to overestimate precipitation at the low (<5 mm h−1) end of the distribution over land. In this work, retrieval sensitivities to dynamic surface conditions are explored through enhancement of the algorithm with dynamic, retrieved information from a GPM-derived optimal estimation scheme. The retrieved parameters describing surface and background characteristics replace current static or ancillary GPROF information including emissivity, water vapor, and snow cover. Results show that adding this information decreases probability of false detection by 50% and, most importantly, the enhancements with retrieved parameters move the retrieval away from dependence on ancillary datasets and lead to improved physical consistency.

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Lisa Milani, Mark S. Kulie, Daniele Casella, Pierre E. Kirstetter, Giulia Panegrossi, Veljko Petkovic, Sarah E. Ringerud, Jean-François Rysman, Paolo Sanò, Nai-Yu Wang, Yalei You, and Gail Skofronick-Jackson


This study focuses on the ability of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) passive microwave sensors to detect and provide quantitative precipitation estimates (QPE) for extreme lake-effect snowfall events over the U.S. lower Great Lakes region. GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) high-frequency channels can clearly detect intense shallow convective snowfall events. However, GMI Goddard Profiling (GPROF) QPE retrievals produce inconsistent results when compared with the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) ground-based radar reference dataset. While GPROF retrievals adequately capture intense snowfall rates and spatial patterns of one event, GPROF systematically underestimates intense snowfall rates in another event. Furthermore, GPROF produces abundant light snowfall rates that do not accord with MRMS observations. Ad hoc precipitation-rate thresholds are suggested to partially mitigate GPROF’s overproduction of light snowfall rates. The sensitivity and retrieval efficiency of GPROF to key parameters (2-m temperature, total precipitable water, and background surface type) used to constrain the GPROF a priori retrieval database are investigated. Results demonstrate that typical lake-effect snow environmental and surface conditions, especially coastal surfaces, are underpopulated in the database and adversely affect GPROF retrievals. For the two presented case studies, using a snow-cover a priori database in the locations originally deemed as coastline improves retrieval. This study suggests that it is particularly important to have more accurate GPROF surface classifications and better representativeness of the a priori databases to improve intense lake-effect snow detection and retrieval performance.

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Clément Guilloteau and Efi Foufoula-Georgiou


The quantitative estimation of precipitation from orbiting passive microwave imagers has been performed for more than 30 years. The development of retrieval methods consists of establishing physical or statistical relationships between the brightness temperatures (TBs) measured at frequencies between 5 and 200 GHz and precipitation. Until now, these relationships have essentially been established at the “pixel” level, associating the average precipitation rate inside a predefined area (the pixel) to the collocated multispectral radiometric measurement. This approach considers each pixel as an independent realization of a process and ignores the fact that precipitation is a dynamic variable with rich multiscale spatial and temporal organization. Here we propose to look beyond the pixel values of the TBs and show that useful information for precipitation retrieval can be derived from the variations of the observed TBs in a spatial neighborhood around the pixel of interest. We also show that considering neighboring information allows us to better handle the complex observation geometry of conical-scanning microwave imagers, involving frequency-dependent beamwidths, overlapping fields of view, and large Earth incidence angles. Using spatial convolution filters, we compute “nonlocal” radiometric parameters sensitive to spatial patterns and scale-dependent structures of the TB fields, which are the “geometric signatures” of specific precipitation structures such as convective cells. We demonstrate that using nonlocal radiometric parameters to enrich the spectral information associated to each pixel allows for reduced retrieval uncertainty (reduction of 6%–11% of the mean absolute retrieval error) in a simple k-nearest neighbors retrieval scheme.

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Veljko Petković, Marko Orescanin, Pierre Kirstetter, Christian Kummerow, and Ralph Ferraro


A decades-long effort in observing precipitation from space has led to continuous improvements of satellite-derived passive microwave (PMW) large-scale precipitation products. However, due to a limited ability to relate observed radiometric signatures to precipitation type (convective and stratiform) and associated precipitation rate variability, PMW retrievals are prone to large systematic errors at instantaneous scales. The present study explores the use of deep learning approach in extracting the information content from PMW observation vectors to help identify precipitation types. A deep learning neural network model (DNN) is developed to retrieve the convective type in precipitating systems from PMW observations. A 12-month period of Global Precipitation Measurement mission Microwave Imager (GMI) observations is used as a dataset for model development and verification. The proposed DNN model is shown to accurately predict precipitation types for 85% of total precipitation volume. The model reduces precipitation rate bias associated with convective and stratiform precipitation in the GPM operational algorithm by a factor of 2 while preserving the correlation with reference precipitation rates, and is insensitive to surface type variability. Based on comparisons against currently used convective schemes, it is concluded that the neural network approach has the potential to address regime-specific PMW satellite precipitation biases affecting GPM operations.

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