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Kamil Mroz
,
Mario Montopoli
,
Alessandro Battaglia
,
Giulia Panegrossi
,
Pierre Kirstetter
, and
Luca Baldini

Abstract

Surface snowfall rate estimates from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission’s Core Observatory sensors and the CloudSat radar are compared to those from the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) radar composite product over the continental United States during the period from November 2014 to September 2020. The analysis includes the Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) retrieval and its single-frequency counterparts, the GPM Combined Radar Radiometer Algorithm (CORRA), the CloudSat Snow Profile product (2C-SNOW-PROFILE), and two passive microwave retrievals, i.e., the Goddard Profiling algorithm (GPROF) and the Snow Retrieval Algorithm for GMI (SLALOM). The 2C-SNOW retrieval has the highest Heidke skill score (HSS) for detecting snowfall among the products analyzed. SLALOM ranks second; it outperforms GPROF and the other GPM algorithms, all detecting only 30% of the snow events. Since SLALOM is trained with 2C-SNOW, it suggests that the optimal use of the information content in the GMI observations critically depends on the precipitation training dataset. All the retrievals underestimate snowfall rates by a factor of 2 compared to MRMS. Large discrepancies (RMSE of 0.7–1.5 mm h−1) between spaceborne and ground-based snowfall rate estimates are attributed to the complexity of the ice scattering properties and to the limitations of the remote sensing systems: the DPR instrument has low sensitivity, while the radiometric measurements are affected by the confounding effects of the background surface emissivity and of the emission of supercooled liquid droplet layers.

Open 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
Clement Guilloteau
,
Efi Foufoula-Georgiou
,
Pierre Kirstetter
,
Jackson Tan
, and
George J. Huffman

Abstract

Satellite precipitation products, as all quantitative estimates, come with some inherent degree of uncertainty. To associate a quantitative value of the uncertainty to each individual estimate, error modeling is necessary. Most of the error models proposed so far compute the uncertainty as a function of precipitation intensity only, and only at one specific spatiotemporal scale. We propose a spectral error model that accounts for the neighboring space–time dynamics of precipitation into the uncertainty quantification. Systematic distortions of the precipitation signal and random errors are characterized distinctively in every frequency–wavenumber band in the Fourier domain, to accurately characterize error across scales. The systematic distortions are represented as a deterministic space–time linear filtering term. The random errors are represented as a nonstationary additive noise. The spectral error model is applied to the IMERG multisatellite precipitation product, and its parameters are estimated empirically through a system identification approach using the GV-MRMS gauge–radar measurements as reference (“truth”) over the eastern United States. The filtering term is found to be essentially low-pass (attenuating the fine-scale variability). While traditional error models attribute most of the error variance to random errors, it is found here that the systematic filtering term explains 48% of the error variance at the native resolution of IMERG. This fact confirms that, at high resolution, filtering effects in satellite precipitation products cannot be ignored, and that the error cannot be represented as a purely random additive or multiplicative term. An important consequence is that precipitation estimates derived from different sources shall not be expected to automatically have statistically independent errors.

Significance Statement

Satellite precipitation products are nowadays widely used for climate and environmental research, water management, risk analysis, and decision support at the local, regional, and global scales. For all these applications, knowledge about the accuracy of the products is critical for their usability. However, products are not systematically provided with a quantitative measure of the uncertainty associated with each individual estimate. Various parametric error models have been proposed for uncertainty quantification, mostly assuming that the uncertainty is only a function of the precipitation intensity at the pixel and time of interest. By projecting satellite precipitation fields and their retrieval errors into the Fourier frequency–wavenumber domain, we show that we can explicitly take into account the neighboring space–time multiscale dynamics of precipitation and compute a scale-dependent uncertainty.

Open access
Yagmur Derin
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Noah Brauer
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
, and
Jianxin Wang

Abstract

To understand and manage water systems under a changing climate and meet an increasing demand for water, a quantitative understanding of precipitation is most important in coastal regions. The capabilities of the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) V06B product for precipitation quantification are 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. A novel uncertainty analysis of IMERG is proposed that considers environmental and physical parameters such as elevation and distance to the coastline. The IMERG performance is traced back to its components, i.e., passive microwave (PMW), infrared (IR), and morphing-based estimates. The analysis is performed using high-resolution, high-quality Ground Validation Multi-Radar/Multi-Sensor (GV-MRMS) rainfall estimates as ground reference at the native resolution of IMERG of 30 min and 0.1°. IMERG Final (IM-F) quantification performance heavily depends on the respective contribution of PMW, IR, and morph components. IM-F and its components overestimate the contribution of light rainfall (<1 mm h−1) and underestimate the contribution of high rainfall rates (>10 mm h−1) to the total rainfall volume. Strong regional dependencies are highlighted, especially over the West Coast, where the proximity of complex terrain to the coastline challenges precipitation estimates. Other major drivers are the distance from the coastline, elevation, and precipitation types, especially over the land and coast surface types, that highlight the impact of precipitation regimes.

Free access
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.

Full access
Yixin Wen
,
Pierre Kirstetter
,
Yang Hong
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Qing Cao
,
Jian Zhang
,
Zac Flamig
, and
Xianwu Xue

Abstract

Over mountainous terrain, ground weather radars face limitations in monitoring surface precipitation as they are affected by radar beam blockages along with the range-dependent biases due to beam broadening and increase in altitude with range. These issues are compounded by precipitation structures that are relatively shallow and experience growth at low levels due to orographic enhancement. To improve surface precipitation estimation, researchers at the University of Oklahoma have demonstrated the benefits of integrating the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) products into the ground-based NEXRAD rainfall estimation system using a vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR) identification and enhancement (VPR-IE) approach. However, the temporal resolution of TRMM limits the application of VPR-IE method operationally. To implement the VPR-IE concept into the National Mosaic and Multi-Sensor QPE (NMQ) system in real time, climatological VPRs from 11 years of TRMM PR observations have been characterized for different stratiform/convective rain types, seasons, and surface rain intensities. Then, these representative profiles are used to adjust ground radar–based precipitation estimates in the NMQ system based on different precipitation structures. This study conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the newly developed climatological VPR-IE (CVPR-IE) method on winter events (January, February, and December) in 2011. The statistical analysis reveals that the CVPR-IE method provides a clear improvement over the original radar QPE in the NMQ system for the study region. Compared to physically based VPRs from real-time PR measurements, climatological VPRs have limitations in representing precipitation structure for individual events. A hybrid correction scheme incorporating both climatological and real-time VPR information is desired for better skill in the future.

Full access
Jessica M. Erlingis
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Emmanouil N. Anagnostou
,
John Kalogiros
,
Marios N. Anagnostou
, and
Walt Petersen

Abstract

During May and June 2014, NOAA X-Pol (NOXP), the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s dual-polarized X-band mobile radar, was deployed to the Pigeon River basin in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina as part of the NASA Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment. Rain gauges and disdrometers were positioned within the basin to verify precipitation estimates from various radar and satellite precipitation algorithms. First, the performance of the Self-Consistent Optimal Parameterization–Microphysics Estimation (SCOP-ME) algorithm for NOXP was examined using ground instrumentation as validation and was found to perform similarly to or slightly outperform other precipitation algorithms over the course of the intensive observation period (IOP). Radar data were also used to examine ridge–valley differences in radar and microphysical parameters for a case of stratiform precipitation passing over the mountains. Inferred coalescence microphysical processes were found to dominate within the upslope region, while a combination of processes were present as the system propagated over the valley. This suggests that enhanced updrafts aided by orographic lift sustain convection over the upslope regions, leading to larger median drop diameters.

Full access
Xiaogang He
,
Hyungjun Kim
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Kei Yoshimura
,
Eun-Chul Chang
,
Craig R. Ferguson
,
Jessica M. Erlingis
,
Yang Hong
, and
Taikan Oki

Abstract

As a basic form of climate patterns, the diurnal cycle of precipitation (DCP) can provide a key test bed for model reliability and development. In this study, the DCP over West Africa was simulated by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Regional Spectral Model (RSM) during the monsoon season (April–September) of 2005. Three convective parameterization schemes (CPSs), single-layer simplified Arakawa–Schubert (SAS), multilayer relaxed Arakawa–Schubert (RAS), and new Kain–Fritsch (KF2), were evaluated at two horizontal resolutions (20 and 10 km). The Benin mesoscale site was singled out for additional investigation of resolution effects. Harmonic analysis was used to characterize the phase and amplitude of the DCP. Compared to satellite observations, the overall spatial distributions of amplitude were well captured at regional scales. The RSM properly reproduced the observed late afternoon peak over land and the early morning peak over ocean. Nevertheless, the peak time was early. Sensitivity experiments of CPSs showed similar spatial patterns of rainfall totals among the schemes; CPSs mainly affected the amplitude of the diurnal cycle, while the phase was not significantly shifted. There is no clear optimal pairing of resolution and CPS. However, it is found that the sensitivity of DCP to CPSs and resolution varies with the partitioning between convective and stratiform, which implies that appropriate partitioning needs to be considered for future development of CPSs in global or regional climate models.

Full access
Qing Cao
,
Yang Hong
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Youcun Qi
,
Jian Zhang
,
Yixin Wen
, and
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter

Abstract

This study presents a statistical analysis of the vertical structure of precipitation measured by NASA–Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) in the region of southern California, Arizona, and western New Mexico, where the ground-based Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) network finds difficulties in accurately measuring surface precipitation because of beam blockages by complex terrain. This study has applied TRMM PR version-7 products 2A23 and 2A25 from 1 January 2000 to 26 October 2011. The seasonal, spatial, intensity-related, and type-related variabilities are characterized for the PR vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR) as well as the heights of storm, freezing level, and bright band. The intensification and weakening of reflectivity at low levels in the VPR are studied through fitting physically based VPR slopes. Major findings include the following: precipitation type is the most significant factor determining the characteristics of VPRs, the shape of VPRs also influences the intensity of surface rainfall rates, the characteristics of VPRs have a seasonal dependence with strong similarities between the spring and autumn months, and the spatial variation of VPR characteristics suggests that the underlying terrain has an impact on the vertical structure. The comprehensive statistical and physical analysis strengthens the understanding of the vertical structure of precipitation and advocates for the approach of VPR correction to improve surface precipitation estimation in complex terrain.

Full access
Humberto Vergara
,
Yang Hong
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Emmanouil N. Anagnostou
,
Viviana Maggioni
,
Dimitrios Stampoulis
, and
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter

Abstract

Uncertainty due to resolution of current satellite-based rainfall products is believed to be an important source of error in applications of hydrologic modeling and forecasting systems. A method to account for the input’s resolution and to accurately evaluate the hydrologic utility of satellite rainfall estimates is devised and analyzed herein. A radar-based Multisensor Precipitation Estimator (MPE) rainfall product (4 km, 1 h) was utilized to assess the impact of resolution of precipitation products on the estimation of rainfall and subsequent simulation of streamflow on a cascade of basins ranging from approximately 500 to 5000 km2. MPE data were resampled to match the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission’s (TRMM) 3B42RT satellite rainfall product resolution (25 km, 3 h) and compared with its native resolution data to estimate errors in rainfall fields. It was found that resolution degradation considerably modifies the spatial structure of rainfall fields. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis was designed to effectively isolate the error on hydrologic simulations due to rainfall resolution using a distributed hydrologic model. These analyses revealed that resolution degradation introduces a significant amount of error in rainfall fields, which propagated to the streamflow simulations as magnified bias and dampened aggregated error (RMSEs). Furthermore, the scale dependency of errors due to resolution degradation was found to intensify with increasing streamflow magnitudes. The hydrologic model was calibrated with satellite- and original-resolution MPE using a multiscale approach. The resulting simulations had virtually the same skill, suggesting that the effects of rainfall resolution can be accounted for during calibration of hydrologic models, which was further demonstrated with 3B42RT.

Full access