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  • Author or Editor: Vincenzo Levizzani x
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Sante Laviola
,
Agata Moscatello
,
Mario Marcello Miglietta
,
Elsa Cattani
, and
Vincenzo Levizzani

Abstract

Two heavy rain events over the Central Mediterranean basin, which are markedly different by genesis, dimensions, duration, and intensity, are analyzed. Given the relative low frequency of this type of severe storms in the area, a synoptic analysis describing their development is included. A multispectral analysis based on geostationary multifrequency satellite images is applied to identify cloud type, hydrometeor phase, and cloud vertical extension. Precipitation intensity is retrieved from (i) surface rain gauges, (ii) satellite data, and (iii) numerical model simulations. The satellite precipitation retrieval algorithm 183-Water vapor Strong Lines (183-WSL) is used to retrieve rain rates and cloud hydrometeor type, classify stratiform and convective rainfall, and identify liquid water clouds and snow cover from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-B (AMSU-B) sensor data. Rainfall intensity is also simulated with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) numerical model over two nested domains with horizontal resolutions of 16 km (comparable to that of the satellite sensor AMSU-B) and 4 km. The statistical analysis of the comparison between satellite retrievals and model simulations demonstrates the skills of both methods for the identification of the main characteristics of the cloud systems with a suggested overall bias of the model toward very low rain intensities. WRF (in the version used for the experiment) seems to classify as low rain intensity regions those areas where the 183-WSL retrieves no precipitation while sensing a mixture of freshly nucleated cloud droplets and a large amount of water vapor; in these areas, especially adjacent to the rain clouds, large amounts of cloud liquid water are detected. The satellite method performs reasonably well in reproducing the wide range of gauge-detected precipitation intensities. A comparison of the 183-WSL retrievals with gauge measurements demonstrates the skills of the algorithm in discriminating between convective and stratiform precipitation using the scattering and absorption of radiation by the hydrometeors.

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Vera Thiemig
,
Rodrigo Rojas
,
Mauricio Zambrano-Bigiarini
,
Vincenzo Levizzani
, and
Ad De Roo

Abstract

Six satellite-based rainfall estimates (SRFE)—namely, Climate Prediction Center (CPC) morphing technique (CMORPH), the Rainfall Estimation Algorithm, version 2 (RFE2.0), Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B42, Goddard profiling algorithm, version 6 (GPROF 6.0), Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN), Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation moving vector with Kalman filter (GSMap MVK), and one reanalysis product [the interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim)]—were validated against 205 rain gauge stations over four African river basins (Zambezi, Volta, Juba–Shabelle, and Baro–Akobo). Validation focused on rainfall characteristics relevant to hydrological applications, such as annual catchment totals, spatial distribution patterns, seasonality, number of rainy days per year, and timing and volume of heavy rainfall events. Validation was done at three spatially aggregated levels: point-to-pixel, subcatchment, and river basin for the period 2003–06. Performance of satellite-based rainfall estimation (SRFE) was assessed using standard statistical methods and visual inspection. SRFE showed 1) accuracy in reproducing precipitation on a monthly basis during the dry season, 2) an ability to replicate bimodal precipitation patterns, 3) superior performance over the tropical wet and dry zone than over semiarid or mountainous regions, 4) increasing uncertainty in the estimation of higher-end percentiles of daily precipitation, 5) low accuracy in detecting heavy rainfall events over semiarid areas, 6) general underestimation of heavy rainfall events, and 7) overestimation of number of rainy days in the tropics. In respect to SRFE performance, GPROF 6.0 and GSMaP-MKV were the least accurate, and RFE 2.0 and TRMM 3B42 were the most accurate. These results allow discrimination between the available products and the reduction of potential errors caused by selecting a product that is not suitable for particular morphoclimatic conditions. For hydrometeorological applications, results support the use of a performance-based merged product that combines the strength of multiple SRFEs.

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