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Yixin Wen
,
Pierre Kirstetter
,
J. J. Gourley
,
Yang Hong
,
Ali Behrangi
, and
Zachary Flamig

Abstract

Snow is important to water resources and is of critical importance to society. Ground-weather-radar-based snowfall observations have been highly desirable for large-scale weather monitoring and water resources applications. This study conducts an evaluation of the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) quantitative estimates of snow rate using the Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) daily snow water equivalent (SWE) datasets. A detectability evaluation shows that MRMS is limited in detecting very light snow (daily snow accumulation <5 mm) because of the quality control module in MRMS filtering out weak signals (<5 dBZ). For daily snow accumulation greater than 10 mm, MRMS has good detectability. The quantitative comparisons reveal a bias of −77.37% between MRMS and SNOTEL. A majority of the underestimation bias occurs in relatively warm conditions with surface temperatures ranging from −10° to 0°C. A constant reflectivity–SWE intensity relationship does not capture the snow mass flux increase associated with denser snow particles at these relatively warm temperatures. There is no clear dependence of the bias on radar beam height. The findings in this study indicate that further improvement in radar snowfall products might occur by deriving appropriate reflectivity–SWE relationships considering the degree of riming and snowflake size.

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Bin Yong
,
Die Liu
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Yudong Tian
,
George J. Huffman
,
Liliang Ren
, and
Yang Hong

Abstract

Accurate estimation of high-resolution precipitation on the global scale is extremely challenging. The operational Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) has created over 16 years of high-resolution quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE), and has built the foundation for improved measurements in the upcoming Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. TMPA is intended to produce the “best effort” estimates of quasi-global precipitation from almost all available satelliteborne precipitation-related sensors by consistently calibrating them with the high-quality measurements from the core instrument platform aboard TRMM. Recently, the TMPA system has been upgraded to version 7 to take advantage of newer and better sources of satellite inputs than version 6, and has attracted a large user base. A key product from TMPA is the near-real-time product (TMPA-RT), as its timeliness is particularly appealing for time-sensitive applications such as flood and landslide monitoring. TMPA-RT’s error characteristics on a global scale have yet to be extensively quantified and understood. In this study, efforts are focused on a systematic evaluation of four sets of mainstream TMPA-RT estimates on the global scale. The analysis herein indicates that the latest version 7 TMPA-RT with the monthly climatological calibration had the lowest daily systematic biases of approximately 9% over land and –11% over ocean (relative to the gauge-adjusted research product). However, there still exist some unresolved issues in mountainous areas (especially the Tibetan Plateau) and high-latitude belts, and for estimating extreme rainfall rates with high variability at small scales. These global error characteristics and their regional and seasonal variations revealed in this paper are expected to serve as the benchmark for the upcoming GPM mission.

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Leonardo Porcacchia
,
P. E. Kirstetter
,
J. J. Gourley
,
V. Maggioni
,
B. L. Cheong
, and
M. N. Anagnostou

Abstract

Accurate quantitative precipitation estimation over mountainous basins is of great importance because of their susceptibility to natural hazards. It is generally difficult to obtain reliable precipitation information over complex areas because of the scarce coverage of ground observations, the limited coverage from operational radar networks, and the high elevation of the study sites. Warm-rain processes have been observed in several flash flood events in complex terrain regions. While they lead to high rainfall rates from precipitation growth due to collision–coalescence of droplets in the cloud liquid layer, their characteristics are often difficult to identify. X-band mobile dual-polarization radars located in complex terrain areas provide fundamental information at high-resolution and at low atmospheric levels. This study analyzes a dataset collected in North Carolina during the 2014 Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx) field campaign over a mountainous basin where the NOAA/National Severe Storm Laboratory’s X-band polarimetric radar (NOXP) was deployed. Polarimetric variables are used to isolate collision–coalescence microphysical processes. This work lays the basis for classification algorithms able to identify coalescence-dominant precipitation by merging the information coming from polarimetric radar measurements. The sensitivity of the proposed classification scheme is tested with different rainfall-rate retrieval algorithms and compared to rain gauge observations. Results show the inadequacy of rainfall estimates when coalescence identification is not taken into account. This work highlights the necessity of a correct classification of collision–coalescence processes, which can lead to improvements in quantitative precipitation estimation. Future studies will aim at generalizing this scheme by making use of spaceborne radar data.

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Shruti A. Upadhyaya
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
, and
Robert J. Kuligowski

ABSTRACT

The launch of NOAA’s latest generation of geostationary satellites known as the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R Series has opened new opportunities in quantifying precipitation rates. Recent efforts have strived to utilize these data to improve space-based precipitation retrievals. The overall objective of the present work is to carry out a detailed error budget analysis of the improved Self-Calibrating Multivariate Precipitation Retrieval (SCaMPR) algorithm for GOES-R and the passive microwave (MW) combined (MWCOMB) precipitation dataset used to calibrate it with an aim to provide insights regarding strengths and weaknesses of these products. This study systematically analyzes the errors across different climate regions and also as a function of different precipitation types over the conterminous United States. The reference precipitation dataset is Ground-Validation Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (GV-MRMS). Overall, MWCOMB reveals smaller errors as compared to SCaMPR. However, the analysis indicated that that the major portion of error in SCaMPR is propagated from the MWCOMB calibration data. The major challenge starts with poor detection from MWCOMB, which propagates in SCaMPR. In particular, MWCOMB misses 90% of cool stratiform precipitation and the overall detection score is around 40%. The ability of the algorithms to quantify precipitation amounts for the Warm Stratiform, Cool Stratiform, and Tropical/Stratiform Mix categories is poor compared to the Convective and Tropical/Convective Mix categories with additional challenges in complex terrain regions. Further analysis showed strong similarities in systematic and random error models with both products. This suggests that the potential of high-resolution GOES-R observations remains underutilized in SCaMPR due to the errors from the calibrator MWCOMB.

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Viviana Maggioni
,
Humberto J. Vergara
,
Emmanouil N. Anagnostou
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Yang Hong
, and
Dimitrios Stampoulis

Abstract

This study uses a stochastic ensemble-based representation of satellite rainfall error to predict the propagation in flood simulation of three quasi-global-scale satellite rainfall products across a range of basin scales. The study is conducted on the Tar-Pamlico River basin in the southeastern United States based on 2 years of data (2004 and 2006). The NWS Multisensor Precipitation Estimator (MPE) dataset is used as the reference for evaluating three satellite rainfall products: the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) real-time 3B42 product (3B42RT), the Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH), and the Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Imagery Using Artificial Neural Networks–Cloud Classification System (PERSIANN-CCS). Both ground-measured runoff and streamflow simulations, derived from the NWS Research Distributed Hydrologic Model forced with the MPE dataset, are used as benchmarks to evaluate ensemble streamflow simulations obtained by forcing the model with satellite rainfall corrected using stochastic error simulations from a two-dimensional satellite rainfall error model (SREM2D). The ability of the SREM2D ensemble error corrections to improve satellite rainfall-driven runoff simulations and to characterize the error variability of those simulations is evaluated. It is shown that by applying the SREM2D error ensemble to satellite rainfall, the simulated runoff ensemble is able to envelope both the reference runoff simulation and observed streamflow. The best (uncorrected) product is 3B42RT, but after applying SREM2D, CMORPH becomes the most accurate of the three products in the prediction of runoff variability. The impact of spatial resolution on the rainfall-to-runoff error propagation is also evaluated for a cascade of basin scales (500–5000 km2). Results show a doubling in the bias from rainfall to runoff at all basin scales. Significant dependency to catchment area is exhibited for the random error propagation component.

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Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Y. Hong
,
J. J. Gourley
,
S. Chen
,
Z. Flamig
,
J. Zhang
,
M. Schwaller
,
W. Petersen
, and
E. Amitai

Abstract

Characterization of the error associated with satellite rainfall estimates is a necessary component of deterministic and probabilistic frameworks involving spaceborne passive and active microwave measurements for applications ranging from water budget studies to forecasting natural hazards related to extreme rainfall events. The authors focus here on the error structure of NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) at ground. The problem is addressed by comparison of PR QPEs with reference values derived from ground-based measurements using NOAA/NSSL ground radar–based National Mosaic and QPE system (NMQ/Q2). A preliminary investigation of this subject has been carried out at the PR estimation scale (instantaneous and 5 km) using a 3-month data sample in the southern part of the United States. The primary contribution of this study is the presentation of the detailed steps required to derive a trustworthy reference rainfall dataset from Q2 at the PR pixel resolution. It relies on a bias correction and a radar quality index, both of which provide a basis to filter out the less trustworthy Q2 values. Several aspects of PR errors are revealed and quantified including sensitivity to the processing steps with the reference rainfall, comparisons of rainfall detectability and rainfall-rate distributions, spatial representativeness of error, and separation of systematic biases and random errors. The methodology and framework developed herein applies more generally to rainfall-rate estimates from other sensors on board low-earth-orbiting satellites such as microwave imagers and dual-wavelength radars such as with the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.

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S. Chen
,
P. E. Kirstetter
,
Y. Hong
,
J. J. Gourley
,
Y. D. Tian
,
Y. C. Qi
,
Q. Cao
,
J. Zhang
,
K. Howard
,
J. J. Hu
, and
X. W. Xue

Abstract

In this paper, the authors estimate the uncertainty of the rainfall products from NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) so that they may be used in a quantitative manner for applications like hydrologic modeling or merging with other rainfall products. The spatial error structure of TRMM PR surface rain rates and types was systematically studied by comparing them with NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory's (NSSL) next generation, high-resolution (1 km/5 min) National Mosaic and Multi-Sensor Quantitative Precipitation Estimation (QPE; NMQ/Q2) over the TRMM-covered continental United States (CONUS). Data pairs are first matched at the PR footprint scale (5 km/instantaneous) and then grouped into 0.25° grid cells to yield spatially distributed error maps and statistics using data from December 2009 through November 2010. Careful quality control steps (including bias correction with rain gauges and quality filtering) are applied to the ground radar measurements prior to considering them as reference data. The results show that PR captures well the spatial pattern of total rainfall amounts with a high correlation coefficient (CC; 0.91) with Q2, but this decreases to 0.56 for instantaneous rain rates. In terms of precipitation types, Q2 and PR convective echoes are spatially correlated with a CC of 0.63. Despite this correlation, PR's total annual precipitation from convection is 48.82% less than that by Q2, which points to potential issues in the PR algorithm's attenuation correction, nonuniform beam filling, and/or reflectivity-to-rainfall relation. Finally, the spatial analysis identifies regime-dependent errors, in particular in the mountainous west. It is likely that the surface reference technique is triggered over complex terrain, resulting in high-amplitude biases.

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Abebe Sine Gebregiorgis
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Yang E. Hong
,
Nicholas J. Carr
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Walt Petersen
, and
Yaoyao Zheng

Abstract

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) has provided the global community a widely used multisatellite (and multisensor type) estimate of quasi-global precipitation. One of the TMPA level-3 products, 3B42RT/TMPA-RT (where RT indicates real time), is a merged product of microwave (MW) and infrared (IR) precipitation estimates, which attempts to exploit the most desirable aspects of both types of sensors, namely, quality rainfall estimation and spatiotemporal resolution. This study extensively and systematically evaluates multisatellite precipitation errors by tracking the sensor-specific error sources and quantifying the biases originating from multiple sensors. High-resolution, ground-based radar precipitation estimates from the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system, developed by the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), are utilized as reference data. The analysis procedure involves segregating the grid precipitation estimate as a function of sensor source, decomposing the bias, and then quantifying the error contribution per grid. The results of this study reveal that while all three aspects of detection (i.e., hit, missed-rain, and false-rain biases) contribute to the total bias associated with IR precipitation estimates, overestimation bias (positive hit bias) and missed precipitation are the dominant error sources for MW precipitation estimates. Considering only MW sensors, the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) shows the largest missed-rain and overestimation biases (nearly double that of the other MW estimates) per grid box during the summer and winter seasons. The Special Sensor Microwave Imagers/Sounders (SSMIS on board F17 and F16) also show major error during winter and spring, respectively.

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R. A. Maddox
,
D. S. Zaras
,
P. L. MacKeen
,
J. J. Gourley
,
R. Rabin
, and
K. W. Howard

Abstract

The new Doppler radars of the National Weather Service (i.e., the WSR-88D radars) are operated continuously in a volume scanning mode (called Volume Coverage Pattern, VCP) with the elevation tilt angles fixed for several VCPs. Because of the fixed VCPs, the radar data can be used to determine the heights of precipitation echo features only to limits of accuracy that depend upon the elevation angles used in the VCP, the radar beamwidth, and the range of echoes. Data from adjacent WSR-88D radars, if used simultaneously, could reduce significantly the height uncertainties inherent in single radar measurements. This is illustrated for idealized situations and also for an event involving a long-lived, tornadic thunderstorm. The use of coordinated scan strategies and combined data analysis procedures for adjacent WSR-88D radars during significant thunderstorm events should be considered for operational applications.

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Yixin Wen
,
Yang Hong
,
Guifu Zhang
,
Terry J. Schuur
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Zac Flamig
,
K. Robert Morris
, and
Qing Cao

Abstract

Ground-based polarimetric weather radar is arguably the most powerful validation tool that provides physical insight into the development and interpretation of spaceborne weather radar algorithms and observations. This study aims to compare and resolve discrepancies in hydrometeor retrievals and reflectivity observations between the NOAA/National Severe Storm Laboratory “proof of concept” KOUN polarimetric Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) and the spaceborne precipitation radar (PR) on board NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) platform. An intercomparison of PR and KOUN melting-layer heights retrieved from 2 to 5 km MSL shows a high correlation coefficient of 0.88 with relative bias of 5.9%. A resolution volume–matching technique is used to compare simultaneous TRMM PR and KOUN reflectivity observations. The comparisons reveal an overall bias of <0.2% between PR and KOUN. The bias is hypothesized to be from non-Rayleigh scattering effects and/or errors in attenuation correction procedures applied to Ku-band PR measurements. By comparing reflectivity with respect to different hydrometeor types (as determined by KOUN’s hydrometeor classification algorithm), it is found that the bias is from echoes that are classified as rain–hail mixture, wet snow, graupel, and heavy rain. These results agree with expectations from backscattering calculations at Ku and S bands, but with the notable exception of dry snow. Comparison of vertical reflectivity profiles shows that PR suffers significant attenuation at lower altitudes, especially in convective rain and in the melting layer. The attenuation correction performs very well for both stratiform and convective rain, however. In light of the imminent upgrade of the U.S. national weather radar network to include polarimetric capabilities, the findings in this study will potentially serve as the basis for nationwide validation of space-based precipitation products and also invite synergistic development of coordinated space–ground multisensor precipitation products.

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