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  • Author or Editor: Jessica R. P. Sutton x
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Jessica R. P. Sutton
Dalia Kirschbaum
Thomas Stanley
, and
Elijah Orland


Accurately detecting and estimating precipitation at near–real time (NRT) is of utmost importance for the early detection and monitoring of hydrometeorological hazards. The precipitation product, Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG), provides NRT 0.1° and 30-min precipitation estimates across the globe with only a 4-h latency. This study was an evaluation of the GPM IMERG version 6 level-3 early run 30-min precipitation product for precipitation events from 2014 through 2020. The purpose of this research was to identify when, where, and why GPM IMERG misidentified and failed to detect precipitation events in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah in the United States. Precipitation events were identified based on 15-min precipitation from gauges and 30-min precipitation from the IMERG multisatellite constellation. False-positive and false-negative precipitation events were identified and analyzed to determine their characteristics. Precipitation events identified by gauges had longer duration and had higher cumulative precipitation than those identified by GPM IMERG. GPM IMERG had many false event detections during the summer months, suggesting possible virga event detection, which is when precipitation falls from a cloud but evaporates before it reaches the ground. The frequency and timing of the merged passive microwave (PMW) product and forward propagation were responsible for IMERG overestimating cumulative precipitation during some precipitation events and underestimating others. This work can inform experts that are using the GPM IMERG NRT product to be mindful of situations where GPM IMERG–estimated precipitation events may not fully resolve the hydrometeorological conditions driving these hazards.

Significance Statement

Accurately estimating rainfall to detect and monitor a precipitation event at near–real time is of utmost importance for hydrometeorological hazards. We used a state-of-the-art rainfall estimation product called GPM IMERG that uses infrared and passive microwave measurements collected from a constellation of satellites to produce near-real-time rainfall estimates every 30 min worldwide. The purpose of our research was to identify when, where, and why GPM IMERG falsely detected and missed precipitation events. Our results suggest that the frequency and timing of passive microwave precipitation with forward propagation were responsible for IMERG missing events, overestimating total rainfall during some precipitation events, and underestimating total rainfall in other precipitation events. Our future work will further investigate precipitation events using the GPM IMERG version 7 near-real-time product.

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