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Cecilia Girz Griffith, John A. Augustine, and William L. Woodley


A satellite rain-estimation technique, derived in Florida for convective rainfall, was used to estimate areal rainfall in the U.S. High Plains. Raingages in dense and sparse networks provided the verification data. Unadjusted satellite-inferred rainfalls exceeded the corresponding gage estimates by a factor of 3–5, depending on the area size. This was expected and it is the result of treating convective clouds in arid regions as tropical clouds.

Two objective methods were derived to adjust the technique for use in the High Plains. The first involved gage and satellite comparisons for a small area and then extrapolation of this comparison to satellite rain estimates for large areas. The second involved calculation of an adjustment factor using the output of a one-dimensional cumulus cloud model. Accuracy of the adjusted rainfalls are discussed in terms of bias, mean error factor, root mean square error and linear regression analyses.

These preliminary results suggest that the satellite convective rain estimation technique can provide rain estimates of considerable utility once the estimates are adjusted for regional differences.

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John A. Augustine, Cecilia G. Griffith, William L. Woodley, and JoséG. Meitín


In the mean the Griffith/Woodley rain estimation technique underestimated the radar-measured rain of each of the three phases (a total of 56 days) of GATE, to varying degrees, and the satellite-derived isohyets were generally too extensive relative to radar-measured patterns. Three possible error sources are investigated in the present paper: 1) the method of apportionment of satellite-derived rain at the surface; 2) resolution degradation of the digital satellite imagery; and 3) anomalous behavior of convective clouds in the tropical Atlantic relative to those of the Florida derivation data set.

To correct the satellite-derived rain patterns, a new method of apportionment was tested by recomputing the GATE satellite rain estimates. Better volumetric comparisons between radar and satellite estimates were observed for 24 h and phase periods, and comparisons of isohyetal patterns improved on all time scales.

The relative error caused by resolution degradation was quantified by comparing rain estimates produced from full resolution imagery to estimates derived from degraded imagery for an 8° latitude by 12° longitude area in the eastern tropical Pacific ocean over a 54 h period. Results showed that the volumetric rainfall estimates made at 1/3° spatial and 1 h temporal resolution would be on the order of 10% lower than estimates made with the full resolution data (1/15° and 30 min).

The remaining differences between the GATE satellite and radar estimates are attributable to different conditions prevailing in Florida and in GATE. These include significant rain from clouds that do not grow above the −20°C level (“warm rain”) and very long-lived anvils.

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John A. Augustine, Christopher R. Cornwall, Gary B. Hodges, Charles N. Long, Carlos I. Medina, and John J. DeLuisi


Over the past decade, networks of Multifilter Rotating Shadowband Radiometers (MFRSR) and automated sun photometers have been established in the United States to monitor aerosol properties. The MFRSR alternately measures diffuse and global irradiance in six narrow spectral bands and a broadband channel of the solar spectrum, from which the direct normal component for each may be inferred. Its 500-nm channel mimics sun photometer measurements and thus is a source of aerosol optical depth information. Automatic data reduction methods are needed because of the high volume of data produced by the MFRSR. In addition, these instruments are often not calibrated for absolute irradiance and must be periodically calibrated for optical depth analysis using the Langley method. This process involves extrapolation to the signal the MFRSR would measure at the top of the atmosphere (I λ0). Here, an automated clear-sky identification algorithm is used to screen MFRSR 500-nm measurements for suitable calibration data. The clear-sky MFRSR measurements are subsequently used to construct a set of calibration Langley plots from which a mean I λ0 is computed. This calibration I λ0 may be subsequently applied to any MFRSR 500-nm measurement within the calibration period to retrieve aerosol optical depth. This method is tested on a 2-month MFRSR dataset from the Table Mountain NOAA Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD) station near Boulder, Colorado. The resultant I λ0 is applied to two Asian dust–related high air pollution episodes that occurred within the calibration period on 13 and 17 April 2001. Computed aerosol optical depths for 17 April range from approximately 0.30 to 0.40, and those for 13 April vary from background levels to >0.30. Errors in these retrievals were estimated to range from ±0.01 to ±0.05, depending on the solar zenith angle. The calculations are compared with independent MFRSR-based aerosol optical depth retrievals at the Pawnee National Grasslands, 85 km to the northeast of Table Mountain, and to sun-photometer-derived aerosol optical depths at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, 50 km to the south. Both the Table Mountain and Golden stations are situated within a few kilometers of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, whereas the Pawnee station is on the eastern plains of Colorado. Time series of aerosol optical depth from Pawnee and Table Mountain stations compare well for 13 April when, according to the Naval Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System, an upper-level Asian dust plume enveloped most of Colorado. Aerosol optical depths at the Golden station for that event are generally greater than those at Table Mountain and Pawnee, possibly because of the proximity of Golden to Denver's urban aerosol plume. The dust over Colorado was primarily surface based on 17 April. On that day, aerosol optical depths at Table Mountain and Golden are similar but are 2 times the magnitude of those at Pawnee. This difference is attributed to meteorological conditions that favored air stagnation in the planetary boundary layer along the Front Range, and a west-to-east gradient in aerosol concentration. The magnitude and timing of the aerosol optical depth measurements at Table Mountain for these events are found to be consistent with independent measurements made at NASA Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) stations at Missoula, Montana, and at Bondville, Illinois.

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