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  • Author or Editor: Haitao Li x
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Lu Yi
Zhangyang Gao
Zhehui Shen
Haitao Lin
Zicheng Liu
Siqi Ma
Cunguang Wang
Stan Z. Li
, and
Ling Li


Precipitation is a vital process in the water cycle. Accurate estimation of the precipitation rate underpins the success of hydrological simulations, flood predictions, and water resource management. Satellite infrared (IR) data, with high temporal resolution and wide coverages, have been commonly used in precipitation inversion. However, existing IR-based precipitation retrieval algorithms suffer from various problems such as overestimation in dry regions, poor performance in extreme rainfall events, and reliance on an empirical cloud-top brightness–rain rate relationship. To resolve these problems, we construct a deep learning model using a spherical convolutional neural network to properly represent Earth’s spherical surface. With data input directly from IR bands 3, 4, and 6 of the operational Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), our new model of Precipitation Estimation based on IR data with Spherical Convolutional Neural Network (PEISCNN) was first trained and tested with a 3-month-long dataset, and then validated in a 2-yr period. Compared to the commonly used IR-based precipitation product PERSIANN-CCS (Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks–Cloud Classification System), PEISCNN showed significant improvement in the metrics of POD, CSI, RMSE, and CC, especially in the dry region and for extreme rainfall events. Decomposed with the four-component error decomposition (4CED) method, the overestimation of PEISCNN was averaged 47.66% lower than the CCS at the hourly scale. The PEISCNN model may provide a promising way to produce an improved IR-based precipitation product to benefit a wide range of hydrological applications.

Significance Statement

An IR-based precipitation algorithm is irreplaceable in satellite precipitation inversion, since an IR sensor can provide observations of high frequency, fine temporal resolution, and wide coverage. Considering the spherical nature of Earth’s surface which has been overlooked in previous IR-based precipitation retrieval algorithms, we proposed a new deep learning model PEISCNN, which can address the problems that exist in IR-based precipitation estimations such as overestimation in dry regions, deficiency in extreme rainfall events, and reliance on the empirical cloud-top brightness–rain rate relationship. PEISCNN provides a new insight to improve the accuracy of the satellite IR-based or multisensor-based precipitation estimation, and it has great potential to benefit a range of related hydrological research, applications in water resource management, and flood predictions.

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