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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
Reyhaneh Rahimi
,
Praveen Ravirathinam
,
Ardeshir Ebtehaj
,
Ali Behrangi
,
Jackson Tan
, and
Vipin Kumar

Abstract

This paper presents a deep supervised learning architecture for 30 min global precipitation nowcasts with a 4-hour lead time. The architecture follows a U-Net structure with convolutional long short-term memory (ConvLSTM) cells empowered by ConvLSTM-based skip connections to reduce information loss due to the pooling operation. The training uses data from the Integrated MultisatellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) and a few key drivers of precipitation from the Global Forecast System (GFS). The impacts of different training loss functions, including the mean-squared error (regression) and the focal-loss (classification), on the quality of precipitation nowcasts are studied. The results indicate that the regression network performs well in capturing light precipitation (<1.6 mm hr−1) while the classification network can outperform the regression counterpart for nowcasting of high-intensity precipitation (>8 mm hr−1), in terms of the critical success index (CSI). It is uncovered that including the forecast variables can improve precipitation nowcasting, especially at longer lead times in both networks. Taking IMERG as a relative reference, a multi-scale analysis, in terms of fractions skill score (FSS), shows that the nowcasting machine remains skillful for precipitation rate above 1 mm hr−1 at the resolution of 10 km compared to 50 km for GFS. For precipitation rates greater than 4 mm hr−1, only the classification network remains FSS-skillful on scales greater than 50 km within a 2-hour lead time.

Restricted access
Lindsey J. M. Hayden
,
Jackson Tan
,
David T. Bolvin
, and
George J. Huffman

Abstract

The diurnal cycle of precipitation is highly regional and is typically a product of multiple competing, highly localized effects. The diurnal cycle in regions such as the Amazon and the Maritime Continent are of particular interest, due to the complex coastal and terrain effects. The high spatial and temporal resolution provided by the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission (IMERG) dataset are used in this study to examine the fine-scale features of the diurnal cycle in these regions. Using an 18-yr (2000–18) record of IMERG precipitation observations, diurnal and semidiurnal phase and amplitude are calculated using a fast Fourier transform (FFT) method on half-hourly averaged precipitation at 0.1° × 0.1°. Clear patterns of precipitation phase propagation with distance from shore are shown over both regions, with the diurnal phase and amplitude exhibiting a strong dependence on the distance from the coastline. Semidiurnal cycles are generally weaker than the diurnal cycle except in some isolated locations. Similar analysis is also conducted on the ERA5 reanalysis data in order to evaluate the model’s representation of the precipitation diurnal cycle. The model captures the broadscale patterns of diurnal variability but does not capture all the fine-scale patterns nor the exact timing that is observed by IMERG. Comparisons are also made to a long-record Ku radar dataset created by combining Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and GPM observations, thus providing an additional point of comparison for the timing of the ERA5 precipitation peak, since the timing precipitation can be different, even in between observational datasets.

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
Yalei You
,
Veljko Petkovic
,
Jackson Tan
,
Rachael Kroodsma
,
Wesley Berg
,
Chris Kidd
, and
Christa Peters-Lidard

Abstract

This study assesses the level-2 precipitation estimates from 10 radiometers relative to Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) in two parts. First, nine sensors—four imagers [Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) and three Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounders (SSMISs)] and five sounders [Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) and four Microwave Humidity Sounders (MHSs)]—are evaluated over the 65°S–65°N region. Over ocean, imagers outperform sounders, primarily due to the usage of low-frequency channels. Furthermore, AMSR2 is clearly superior to SSMISs, likely due to the finer footprint size. Over land all sensors perform similarly except the noticeably worse performance from ATMS and SSMIS-F17. Second, we include the Sondeur Atmospherique du Profil d’Humidite Intertropicale par Radiometrie (SAPHIR) into the evaluation process, contrasting it against other sensors in the SAPHIR latitudes (30°S–30°N). SAPHIR has a slightly worse detection capability than other sounders over ocean but comparable detection performance to MHSs over land. The intensity estimates from SAPHIR show a larger normalized root-mean-square-error over both land and ocean, likely because only 183.3-GHz channels are available. Currently, imagers are preferred to sounders when level-2 estimates are incorporated into level-3 products. Our results suggest a sensor-specific priority order. Over ocean, this study indicates a priority order of AMSR2, SSMISs, MHSs and ATMS, and SAPHIR. Over land, SSMIS-F17, ATMS and SAPHIR should be given a lower priority than the other sensors.

Free access
Jackson Tan
,
Walter A. Petersen
,
Gottfried Kirchengast
,
David C. Goodrich
, and
David B. Wolff

Abstract

Precipitation profiles from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR; Ku and Ka bands) form part of the a priori database used in the Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF) for retrievals of precipitation from passive microwave sensors, which are in turn used as high-quality precipitation estimates in gridded products. As GPROF performs precipitation retrievals as a function of surface classes, error characteristics may be dependent on surface types. In this study, the authors evaluate the rainfall estimates from DPR Ku as well as GPROF estimates from passive microwave sensors in the GPM constellation. The evaluation is conducted at the level of individual satellite pixels (5–15 km) against three dense networks of rain gauges, located over contrasting land surface types and rainfall regimes, with multiple gauges per satellite pixel and precise accumulation about overpass time to ensure a representative comparison. As expected, it was found that the active retrievals from DPR Ku generally performed better than the passive retrievals from GPROF. However, both retrievals struggle under coastal and semiarid environments. In particular, virga appears to be a serious challenge for both DPR Ku and GPROF. The authors detected the existence of lag due to the time it takes for satellite-observed precipitation to reach the ground, but the precise delay is difficult to quantify. It was also shown that subpixel variability is a contributor to the errors in GPROF. These results can pinpoint deficiencies in precipitation algorithms that may propagate into widely used gridded products.

Full access
David T. Bolvin
,
George J. Huffman
,
Eric J. Nelkin
, and
Jackson Tan

Abstract

Satellite-based precipitation estimates provide valuable information where surface observations are not readily available, especially over the large expanses of the ocean where in situ precipitation observations are very sparse. This study compares monthly precipitation estimates from the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) with gauge observations from 37 low-lying atolls from the Pacific Rainfall Database for the period June 2000–August 2020. Over the analysis period, IMERG estimates are slightly higher than the atoll observations by 0.67% with a monthly correlation of 0.68. Seasonally, DJF shows excellent agreement with a near-zero bias, while MAM shows IMERG is low by 4.6%, and JJA is high by 1.2%. SON exhibits the worst performance, with IMERG overestimating by 6.5% compared to the atolls. The seasonal correlations are well contained in the range 0.67–0.72, with the exception of SON at 0.62. Furthermore, SON has the highest RMSE at 4.70 mm day−1, making it the worst season for all metrics. Scatterplots of IMERG versus atolls show IMERG, on average, is generally low for light precipitation accumulations and high for intense precipitation accumulations, with best agreement at intermediate rates. Seasonal variations exist at light and intermediate rate accumulations, but IMERG consistently overestimates at intense precipitation rates. The differences between IMERG and atolls vary over time but do not exhibit any discernable trend or dependence on atoll population. The PACRAIN atoll gauges are not wind-loss corrected, so application of an appropriate adjustment would increase the precipitation amounts compared to IMERG. These results provide useful insight to users as well as valuable information for future improvements to IMERG.

Free access