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  • 12th International Precipitation Conference (IPC12) x
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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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