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Lindsey J. M. Hayden
,
Jackson Tan
,
David T. Bolvin
, and
George J. Huffman

Abstract

The diurnal cycle of precipitation is highly regional and is typically a product of multiple competing, highly localized effects. The diurnal cycle in regions such as the Amazon and the Maritime Continent are of particular interest, due to the complex coastal and terrain effects. The high spatial and temporal resolution provided by the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission (IMERG) dataset are used in this study to examine the fine-scale features of the diurnal cycle in these regions. Using an 18-yr (2000–18) record of IMERG precipitation observations, diurnal and semidiurnal phase and amplitude are calculated using a fast Fourier transform (FFT) method on half-hourly averaged precipitation at 0.1° × 0.1°. Clear patterns of precipitation phase propagation with distance from shore are shown over both regions, with the diurnal phase and amplitude exhibiting a strong dependence on the distance from the coastline. Semidiurnal cycles are generally weaker than the diurnal cycle except in some isolated locations. Similar analysis is also conducted on the ERA5 reanalysis data in order to evaluate the model’s representation of the precipitation diurnal cycle. The model captures the broadscale patterns of diurnal variability but does not capture all the fine-scale patterns nor the exact timing that is observed by IMERG. Comparisons are also made to a long-record Ku radar dataset created by combining Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and GPM observations, thus providing an additional point of comparison for the timing of the ERA5 precipitation peak, since the timing precipitation can be different, even in between observational datasets.

Open access
Yalei You
,
Veljko Petkovic
,
Jackson Tan
,
Rachael Kroodsma
,
Wesley Berg
,
Chris Kidd
, and
Christa Peters-Lidard

Abstract

This study assesses the level-2 precipitation estimates from 10 radiometers relative to Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) in two parts. First, nine sensors—four imagers [Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) and three Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounders (SSMISs)] and five sounders [Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) and four Microwave Humidity Sounders (MHSs)]—are evaluated over the 65°S–65°N region. Over ocean, imagers outperform sounders, primarily due to the usage of low-frequency channels. Furthermore, AMSR2 is clearly superior to SSMISs, likely due to the finer footprint size. Over land all sensors perform similarly except the noticeably worse performance from ATMS and SSMIS-F17. Second, we include the Sondeur Atmospherique du Profil d’Humidite Intertropicale par Radiometrie (SAPHIR) into the evaluation process, contrasting it against other sensors in the SAPHIR latitudes (30°S–30°N). SAPHIR has a slightly worse detection capability than other sounders over ocean but comparable detection performance to MHSs over land. The intensity estimates from SAPHIR show a larger normalized root-mean-square-error over both land and ocean, likely because only 183.3-GHz channels are available. Currently, imagers are preferred to sounders when level-2 estimates are incorporated into level-3 products. Our results suggest a sensor-specific priority order. Over ocean, this study indicates a priority order of AMSR2, SSMISs, MHSs and ATMS, and SAPHIR. Over land, SSMIS-F17, ATMS and SAPHIR should be given a lower priority than the other sensors.

Free access
Jackson Tan
,
George J. Huffman
,
David T. Bolvin
, and
Eric J. Nelkin

Abstract

As the U.S. Science Team’s globally gridded precipitation product from the NASA–JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, the Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) estimates the surface precipitation rates at 0.1° every half hour using spaceborne sensors for various scientific and societal applications. One key component of IMERG is the morphing algorithm, which uses motion vectors to perform quasi-Lagrangian interpolation to fill in gaps in the passive microwave precipitation field using motion vectors. Up to IMERG V05, the motion vectors were derived from the large-scale motions of infrared observations of cloud tops. This study details the changes introduced in IMERG V06 to derive motion vectors from large-scale motions of selected atmospheric variables in numerical models, which allow IMERG estimates to be extended from the 60°N–60°S latitude band to the entire globe. Evaluation against both instantaneous passive microwave retrievals and ground measurements demonstrates the general improvement in the precipitation field of the new approach. Most of the model variables tested exhibited similar performance, but total precipitable water vapor was chosen as the source of the motion vectors for IMERG V06 due to its competitive performance and global completeness. Continuing assessments will provide further insights into possible refinements of this revised morphing scheme in future versions of IMERG.

Full access
Jackson Tan
,
Walter A. Petersen
,
Gottfried Kirchengast
,
David C. Goodrich
, and
David B. Wolff

Abstract

Precipitation profiles from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR; Ku and Ka bands) form part of the a priori database used in the Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF) for retrievals of precipitation from passive microwave sensors, which are in turn used as high-quality precipitation estimates in gridded products. As GPROF performs precipitation retrievals as a function of surface classes, error characteristics may be dependent on surface types. In this study, the authors evaluate the rainfall estimates from DPR Ku as well as GPROF estimates from passive microwave sensors in the GPM constellation. The evaluation is conducted at the level of individual satellite pixels (5–15 km) against three dense networks of rain gauges, located over contrasting land surface types and rainfall regimes, with multiple gauges per satellite pixel and precise accumulation about overpass time to ensure a representative comparison. As expected, it was found that the active retrievals from DPR Ku generally performed better than the passive retrievals from GPROF. However, both retrievals struggle under coastal and semiarid environments. In particular, virga appears to be a serious challenge for both DPR Ku and GPROF. The authors detected the existence of lag due to the time it takes for satellite-observed precipitation to reach the ground, but the precise delay is difficult to quantify. It was also shown that subpixel variability is a contributor to the errors in GPROF. These results can pinpoint deficiencies in precipitation algorithms that may propagate into widely used gridded products.

Full access
David T. Bolvin
,
George J. Huffman
,
Eric J. Nelkin
, and
Jackson Tan

Abstract

Satellite-based precipitation estimates provide valuable information where surface observations are not readily available, especially over the large expanses of the ocean where in situ precipitation observations are very sparse. This study compares monthly precipitation estimates from the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) with gauge observations from 37 low-lying atolls from the Pacific Rainfall Database for the period June 2000–August 2020. Over the analysis period, IMERG estimates are slightly higher than the atoll observations by 0.67% with a monthly correlation of 0.68. Seasonally, DJF shows excellent agreement with a near-zero bias, while MAM shows IMERG is low by 4.6%, and JJA is high by 1.2%. SON exhibits the worst performance, with IMERG overestimating by 6.5% compared to the atolls. The seasonal correlations are well contained in the range 0.67–0.72, with the exception of SON at 0.62. Furthermore, SON has the highest RMSE at 4.70 mm day−1, making it the worst season for all metrics. Scatterplots of IMERG versus atolls show IMERG, on average, is generally low for light precipitation accumulations and high for intense precipitation accumulations, with best agreement at intermediate rates. Seasonal variations exist at light and intermediate rate accumulations, but IMERG consistently overestimates at intense precipitation rates. The differences between IMERG and atolls vary over time but do not exhibit any discernable trend or dependence on atoll population. The PACRAIN atoll gauges are not wind-loss corrected, so application of an appropriate adjustment would increase the precipitation amounts compared to IMERG. These results provide useful insight to users as well as valuable information for future improvements to IMERG.

Free access
Jackson Tan
,
George J. Huffman
,
David T. Bolvin
,
Eric J. Nelkin
, and
Manikandan Rajagopal

Abstract

A key strategy in obtaining complete global coverage of high-resolution precipitation is to combine observations from multiple fields, such as the intermittent passive microwave observations, precipitation propagated in time using motion vectors, and geosynchronous infrared observations. These separate precipitation fields can be combined through weighted averaging, which produces estimates that are generally superior to the individual parent fields. However, the process of averaging changes the distribution of the precipitation values, leading to an increase in precipitating area and a decrease in the values of high precipitation rates, a phenomenon observed in IMERG. To mitigate this issue, we introduce a new scheme called SHARPEN (Scheme for Histogram Adjustment with Ranked Precipitation Estimates in the Neighborhood), which recovers the distribution of the averaged precipitation field based on the idea of quantile mapping applied to the local environment. When implemented in IMERG, precipitation estimates from SHARPEN exhibit a distribution that resembles that of the original instantaneous observations, with matching precipitating area and peak precipitation rates. Case studies demonstrate its improved ability in bridging between the parent precipitation fields. Evaluation against ground observations reveals a distinct improvement in precipitation detection skill, but also a slightly reduced correlation likely because of a sharper precipitation field. The increased computational demand of SHARPEN can be mitigated by striding over multiple grid boxes, which has only marginal impacts on the accuracy of the estimates. SHARPEN can be applied to any precipitation algorithm that produces an average from multiple input precipitation fields and is being considered for implementation in IMERG V07.

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
Yalei You
,
Christa Peters-Lidard
,
S. Joseph Munchak
,
Jackson Tan
,
Scott Braun
,
Sarah Ringerud
,
William Blackwell
,
John Xun Yang
,
Eric Nelkin
, and
Jun Dong

Abstract

Previous studies showed that conical scanning radiometers greatly outperform cross-track scanning radiometers for precipitation retrieval over ocean. This study demonstrates a novel approach to improve precipitation rates at the cross-track scanning radiometers’ observation time by propagating the conical scanning radiometers’ retrievals to the cross-track scanning radiometers’ observation time. The improved precipitation rate is a weighted average of original cross-track radiometers’ retrievals and retrievals propagated from a conical scanning radiometer. The cross-track scanning radiometers include the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) on board the SNPP satellite and four Microwave Humidity Sounders (MHSs). The conical scanning radiometers include the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) and three Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounders (SSMISs), while the precipitation retrievals from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) are taken as the reference. Results show that the morphed precipitation rates agree much better with the reference. The degree of improvement depends on several factors, including the propagated precipitation source, the time interval between the cross-track scanning radiometer and the conical scanning radiometer, the precipitation type (convective versus stratiform), the precipitation events’ size, and the geolocation. The study has potential to greatly improve high-impact weather systems monitoring (e.g., hurricanes) and multisatellite precipitation products. It may also enhance the usefulness of future satellite missions with cross-track scanning radiometers on board.

Full 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
Elise Monsieurs
,
Dalia Bach Kirschbaum
,
Jackson Tan
,
Jean-Claude Maki Mateso
,
Liesbet Jacobs
,
Pierre-Denis Plisnier
,
Wim Thiery
,
Augusta Umutoni
,
Didace Musoni
,
Toussaint Mugaruka Bibentyo
,
Gloire Bamulezi Ganza
,
Guy Ilombe Mawe
,
Luc Bagalwa
,
Clairia Kankurize
,
Caroline Michellier
,
Thomas Stanley
,
Francois Kervyn
,
Matthieu Kervyn
,
Alain Demoulin
, and
Olivier Dewitte

Abstract

Accurate precipitation data are fundamental for understanding and mitigating the disastrous effects of many natural hazards in mountainous areas. Floods and landslides, in particular, are potentially deadly events that can be mitigated with advanced warning, but accurate forecasts require timely estimation of precipitation, which is problematic in regions such as tropical Africa with limited gauge measurements. Satellite rainfall estimates (SREs) are of great value in such areas, but rigorous validation is required to identify the uncertainties linked to SREs for hazard applications. This paper presents results of an unprecedented record of gauge data in the western branch of the East African Rift, with temporal resolutions ranging from 30 min to 24 h and records from 1998 to 2018. These data were used to validate the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) research version and near-real-time products for 3-hourly, daily, and monthly rainfall accumulations, over multiple spatial scales. Results indicate that there are at least two factors that led to the underestimation of TMPA at the regional level: complex topography and high rainfall intensities. The TMPA near-real-time product shows overall stronger rainfall underestimations but lower absolute errors and a better performance at higher rainfall intensities compared to the research version. We found area-averaged TMPA rainfall estimates relatively more suitable in order to move toward regional hazard assessment, compared to data from scarcely distributed gauges with limited representativeness in the context of high rainfall variability.

Full access