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  • Author or Editor: Dalia B. Kirschbaum x
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Daniel B. Wright
,
Dalia B. Kirschbaum
, and
Soni Yatheendradas

Abstract

Satellite multisensor precipitation products (SMPPs) have a variety of potential uses but suffer from relatively poor accuracy due to systematic biases and random errors in precipitation occurrence and magnitude. The censored, shifted gamma distribution (CSGD) is used here to characterize the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA), a commonly used SMPP, and to compare it against the rain gauge–based North American Land Data Assimilation System phase 2 (NLDAS-2) reference precipitation dataset across the conterminous United States. The CSGD describes both the occurrence and the magnitude of precipitation. Climatological CSGD characterization reveals significant regional differences between TMPA and NLDAS-2 in terms of magnitude and probability of occurrence. A flexible CSGD-based error modeling framework is also used to quantify errors in TMPA relative to NLDAS-2. The framework can model conditional bias as either a linear or nonlinear function of satellite precipitation rate and can produce a “conditional CSGD” describing the distribution of “true” precipitation based on a satellite observation. The framework is also used to “merge” TMPA with atmospheric variables from version 2 of the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA-2) to reduce SMPP errors. Despite the coarse resolution of MERRA-2, this merging offers robust reductions in random error due to the better performance of numerical models in resolving stratiform precipitation. Improvements in the near-real-time version of TMPA are relatively greater than for the higher-latency research version.

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Andrew M. Badger
,
Christa Peters-Lidard
, and
Dalia B. Kirschbaum

Abstract

A globally consistent ground validation method for remotely sensed precipitation products is crucial for building confidence in these products. This study develops a new methodology to validate the IMERG precipitation products through the use of SMAP soil moisture changes as a proxy for precipitation occurrence. Using a standard 2 × 2 contingency table method, preliminary results provide confidence in SMAP’s ability to be utilized as a validation tool for IMERG as results are comparable to previous validation studies. However, the method allows for an overestimate of false alarm frequency due to light precipitation events that can evaporate before the subsequent SMAP overpass and changes in overpass-to-overpass SMAP soil moisture that are within the range of SMAP uncertainty. To counter these issues, a 3 × 3 contingency table is used to reduce noise and extract more signal from the detection method. Through the use of this novel approach, the validation method produces a global mean POD of 0.64 and global mean FAR of 0.40, the first global-scale ground validation skill scores for the IMERG products. Advancing the method to validate precipitation quantity and the development of a real-time validation for the IMERG Early product are the crucial next developments.

Significance Statement

We wanted to see if there was a method in which remotely sensed precipitation observations could be validated at a near-global scale for land areas. Scientific literature is filled with studies that validate various precipitation datasets over local-to-regional scales, with very few extending beyond that domain. This study provides a robust first attempt at validating a global precipitation product at a global scale using changes in remotely sensed soil moisture as an independent proxy for precipitation presence/absence. While the method demonstrates that there is skill in using soil moisture as a tool to validate precipitation at the global scale, we find that there are still instances of a systemic bias for arid climate regimes. This method lays the groundwork for future studies to provide a comprehensive global validation in a globally consistent manner.

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Samantha H. Hartke
,
Daniel B. Wright
,
Dalia B. Kirschbaum
,
Thomas A. Stanley
, and
Zhe Li

Abstract

Many existing models that predict landslide hazards utilize ground-based sources of precipitation data. In locations where ground-based precipitation observations are limited (i.e., a vast majority of the globe), or for landslide hazard models that assess regional or global domains, satellite multisensor precipitation products offer a promising near-real-time alternative to ground-based data. NASA’s global Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness (LHASA) model uses the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) product to issue hazard “nowcasts” in near–real time for areas that are currently at risk for landsliding. Satellite-based precipitation estimates, however, can contain considerable systematic bias and random error, especially over mountainous terrain and during extreme rainfall events. This study combines a precipitation error modeling framework with a probabilistic adaptation of LHASA. Compared with the routine version of LHASA, this probabilistic version correctly predicts more of the observed landslides in the study region with fewer false alarms by high hazard nowcasts. This study demonstrates that improvements in landslide hazard prediction can be achieved regardless of whether the IMERG error model is trained using abundant ground-based precipitation observations or using far fewer and more scattered observations, suggesting that the approach is viable in data-limited regions. Results emphasize the importance of accounting for both random error and systematic satellite precipitation bias. The approach provides an example of how environmental prediction models can incorporate satellite precipitation uncertainty. Other applications such as flood and drought monitoring and forecasting could likely benefit from consideration of precipitation uncertainty.

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Zhe Li
,
Daniel B. Wright
,
Sara Q. Zhang
,
Dalia B. Kirschbaum
, and
Samantha H. Hartke

Abstract

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) constellation of spaceborne sensors provides a variety of direct and indirect measurements of precipitation processes. Such observations can be employed to derive spatially and temporally consistent gridded precipitation estimates either via data-driven retrieval algorithms or by assimilation into physically based numerical weather models. We compare the data-driven Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) and the assimilation-enabled NASA-Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) model against Stage IV reference precipitation for four major extreme rainfall events in the southeastern United States using an object-based analysis framework that decomposes gridded precipitation fields into storm objects. As an alternative to conventional “grid-by-grid analysis,” the object-based approach provides a promising way to diagnose spatial properties of storms, trace them through space and time, and connect their accuracy to storm types and input data sources. The evolution of two tropical cyclones are generally captured by IMERG and NU-WRF, while the less organized spatial patterns of two mesoscale convective systems pose challenges for both. NU-WRF rain rates are generally more accurate, while IMERG better captures storm location and shape. Both show higher skill in detecting large, intense storms compared to smaller, weaker storms. IMERG’s accuracy depends on the input microwave and infrared data sources; NU-WRF does not appear to exhibit this dependence. Findings highlight that an object-oriented view can provide deeper insights into satellite precipitation performance and that the satellite precipitation community should further explore the potential for “hybrid” data-driven and physics-driven estimates in order to make optimal usage of satellite observations.

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