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  • Author or Editor: Jackson Tan x
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Jackson Tan
,
Nayeong Cho
,
Lazaros Oreopoulos
, and
Pierre Kirstetter

Abstract

Precipitation retrievals from passive microwave satellite observations form the basis of many widely used precipitation products, but the performance of the retrievals depends on numerous factors such as surface type and precipitation variability. Previous evaluation efforts have identified bias dependence on precipitation regime, which may reflect the influence on retrievals of recurring factors. In this study, the concept of a regime-based evaluation of precipitation from the Goddard profiling (GPROF) algorithm is extended to cloud regimes. Specifically, GPROF V05 precipitation retrievals under four different cloud regimes are evaluated against ground radars over the United States. GPROF is generally able to accurately retrieve the precipitation associated with both organized convection and less organized storms, which collectively produce a substantial fraction of global precipitation. However, precipitation from stratocumulus systems is underestimated over land and overestimated over water. Similarly, precipitation associated with trade cumulus environments is underestimated over land, while biases over water depend on the sensor’s channel configuration. By extending the evaluation to more sensors and suppressed environments, these results complement insights previously obtained from precipitation regimes, thus demonstrating the potential of cloud regimes in categorizing the global atmosphere into discrete systems.

Significance Statement

To understand how the accuracy of satellite precipitation depends on weather conditions, we compare the satellite estimates of precipitation against ground radars in the United States, using cloud regimes as a proxy for different recurring atmospheric systems. Consistent with previous studies, we found that errors in the satellite precipitation vary under different regimes. Satellite precipitation is, reassuringly, more accurate for storm systems that produce intense precipitation. However, in systems that produce weak or isolated precipitation, the errors are larger due to retrieval limitations. These findings highlight the important role of atmospheric states on the accuracy of satellite precipitation and the potential of cloud regimes for categorizing the global atmosphere.

Full access
Jackson Tan
,
Walter A. Petersen
, and
Ali Tokay

Abstract

The comparison of satellite and high-quality, ground-based estimates of precipitation is an important means to assess the confidence in satellite-based algorithms and to provide a benchmark for their continued development and future improvement. To these ends, it is beneficial to identify sources of estimation uncertainty, thereby facilitating a precise understanding of the origins of the problem. This is especially true for new datasets such as the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) product, which provides global precipitation gridded at a high resolution using measurements from different sources and techniques. Here, IMERG is evaluated against a dense network of gauges in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. A novel approach is presented, leveraging ancillary variables in IMERG to attribute the errors to the individual instruments or techniques within the algorithm. As a whole, IMERG exhibits some misses and false alarms for rain detection, while its rain-rate estimates tend to overestimate drizzle and underestimate heavy rain with considerable random error. Tracing the errors to their sources, the most reliable IMERG estimates come from passive microwave satellites, which in turn exhibit a hierarchy of performance. The morphing technique has comparable proficiency with the less skillful satellites, but infrared estimations perform poorly. The approach here demonstrated that, underlying the overall reasonable performance of IMERG, different sources have different reliability, thus enabling both IMERG users and developers to better recognize the uncertainty in the estimate. Future validation efforts are urged to adopt such a categorization to bridge between gridded rainfall and instantaneous satellite estimates.

Full access
Jackson Tan
,
Walter A. Petersen
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
, and
Yudong Tian

Abstract

The Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), a global high-resolution gridded precipitation dataset, will enable a wide range of applications, ranging from studies on precipitation characteristics to applications in hydrology to evaluation of weather and climate models. These applications focus on different spatial and temporal scales and thus average the precipitation estimates to coarser resolutions. Such a modification of scale will impact the reliability of IMERG. In this study, the performance of the Final Run of IMERG is evaluated against ground-based measurements as a function of increasing spatial resolution (from 0.1° to 2.5°) and accumulation periods (from 0.5 to 24 h) over a region in the southeastern United States. For ground reference, a product derived from the Multi-Radar/Multi-Sensor suite, a radar- and gauge-based operational precipitation dataset, is used. The TRMM Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) is also included as a benchmark. In general, both IMERG and TMPA improve when scaled up to larger areas and longer time periods, with better identification of rain occurrences and consistent improvements in systematic and random errors of rain rates. Between the two satellite estimates, IMERG is slightly better than TMPA most of the time. These results will inform users on the reliability of IMERG over the scales relevant to their studies.

Full access
Manikandan Rajagopal
,
Edward Zipser
,
George Huffman
,
James Russell
, and
Jackson Tan

Abstract

The Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement Mission (IMERG) is a global precipitation product that uses precipitation retrievals from the virtual constellation of satellites with passive microwave (PMW) sensors, as available. In the absence of PMW observations, IMERG uses a Kalman filter scheme to morph precipitation from one PMW observation to the next. In this study, an analysis of convective systems observed during the Convective Process Experiment (CPEX) suggests that IMERG precipitation depends more strongly on the availability of PMW observations than previously suspected. Following this evidence, we explore systematic biases in IMERG through bulk statistics. In two CPEX case studies, cloud photographs, pilot’s radar, and infrared imagery suggest that IMERG represents the spatial extent of precipitation relatively well when there is a PMW observation but sometimes produces spurious precipitation areas in the absence of PMW observations. Also, considering an observed convective system as a precipitation object in IMERG, the maximum rain rate peaked during PMW overpasses, with lower values between them. Bulk statistics reveal that these biases occur throughout IMERG Version 06. We find that locations and times without PMW observations have a higher frequency of light precipitation rates and a lower frequency of heavy precipitation rates due to retrieval artifacts. These results reveal deficiencies in the IMERG Kalman filter scheme, which have led to the development of the Scheme for Histogram Adjustment with Ranked Precipitation Estimates in the Neighborhood (SHARPEN; described in a companion paper) that will be applied in the next version of IMERG.

Full 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
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