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Wesley Berg and Robert Chase

Abstract

Global estimates of monthly, seasonal, and annual oceanic rainfall are computed for a period of 1 year using data from the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I). Instantaneous rainfall estimates are derived from brightness temperature values obtained from the satellite data using the Hughes D-matrix algorithm, which was originally developed by Environmental Research and Technology, Inc. (ERT). The instantaneous rainfall estimates are stored in 1° square bins over the global oceans for each month. A mixed probability distribution combining a lognormal distribution describing the positive rainfall values and a spike at zero describing the observations indicating no rainfall is used to compute mean values. The resulting data for the period of interest are fitted to a lognormal distribution by using a maximum-likelihood method. Mean values are computed for the mixed distribution and qualitative comparisons with published historical results as well as quantitative comparisons with corresponding in situ raingage data are performed.

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Christian Kummerow, Wesley Berg, Jody Thomas-Stahle, and Hirohiko Masunaga

Abstract

While a large number of methods exist in the literature for retrieving rainfall from passive microwave brightness temperatures, little has been written about the quantitative assessment of the expected uncertainties in these rainfall products at various time and space scales. The latter is the result of two factors: sparse validation sites over most of the world’s oceans, and algorithm sensitivities to rainfall regimes that cause inconsistencies against validation data collected at different locations. To make progress in this area, a simple probabilistic algorithm is developed. The algorithm uses an a priori database constructed from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) radar data coupled with radiative transfer computations. Unlike efforts designed to improve rainfall products, this algorithm takes a step backward in order to focus on uncertainties. In addition to inversion uncertainties, the construction of the algorithm allows errors resulting from incorrect databases, incomplete databases, and time- and space-varying databases to be examined. These are quantified. Results show that the simple algorithm reduces errors introduced by imperfect knowledge of precipitation radar (PR) rain by a factor of 4 relative to an algorithm that is tuned to the PR rainfall. Database completeness does not introduce any additional uncertainty at the global scale, while climatologically distinct space/time domains add approximately 25% uncertainty that cannot be detected by a radiometer alone. Of this value, 20% is attributed to changes in cloud morphology and microphysics, while 5% is a result of changes in the rain/no-rain thresholds. All but 2%–3% of this variability can be accounted for by considering the implicit assumptions in the algorithm. Additional uncertainties introduced by the details of the algorithm formulation are not quantified in this study because of the need for independent measurements that are beyond the scope of this paper. A validation strategy for these errors is outlined.

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Christian Kummerow, Philip Poyner, Wesley Berg, and Jody Thomas-Stahle

Abstract

Passive microwave rainfall estimates that exploit the emission signal of raindrops in the atmosphere are sensitive to the inhomogeneity of rainfall within the satellite field of view (FOV). In particular, the concave nature of the brightness temperature (T b) versus rainfall relations at frequencies capable of detecting the blackbody emission of raindrops cause retrieval algorithms to systematically underestimate precipitation unless the rainfall is homogeneous within a radiometer FOV, or the inhomogeneity is accounted for explicitly. This problem has a long history in the passive microwave community and has been termed the beam-filling error. While not a true error, correcting for it requires a priori knowledge about the actual distribution of the rainfall within the satellite FOV, or at least a statistical representation of this inhomogeneity. This study first examines the magnitude of this beam-filling correction when slant-path radiative transfer calculations are used to account for the oblique incidence of current radiometers. Because of the horizontal averaging that occurs away from the nadir direction, the beam-filling error is found to be only a fraction of what has been reported previously in the literature based upon plane-parallel calculations. For a FOV representative of the 19-GHz radiometer channel (18 km × 28 km) aboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the mean beam-filling correction computed in this study for tropical atmospheres is 1.26 instead of 1.52 computed from plane-parallel techniques. The slant-path solution is also less sensitive to finescale rainfall inhomogeneity and is, thus, able to make use of 4-km radar data from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR) in order to map regional and seasonal distributions of observed rainfall inhomogeneity in the Tropics. The data are examined to assess the expected errors introduced into climate rainfall records by unresolved changes in rainfall inhomogeneity. Results show that global mean monthly errors introduced by not explicitly accounting for rainfall inhomogeneity do not exceed 0.5% if the beam-filling error is allowed to be a function of rainfall rate and freezing level and does not exceed 2% if a universal beam-filling correction is applied that depends only upon the freezing level. Monthly regional errors can be significantly larger. Over the Indian Ocean, errors as large as 8% were found if the beam-filling correction is allowed to vary with rainfall rate and freezing level while errors of 15% were found if a universal correction is used.

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Ruanyu Zhang, Christian D. Kummerow, David L. Randel, Paula J. Brown, Wesley Berg, and Zhenzhan Wang

Abstract

This study focuses on the tropical cyclone rainfall retrieval using FY-3B Microwave Radiation Imager (MWRI) brightness temperatures (Tbs). The GPROF, a fully parametric approach based on the Bayesian scheme, is adapted for use by the MWRI sensor. The MWRI GPROF algorithm is an ocean-only scheme used to estimate rain rates and hydrometeor vertical profiles. An a priori database is constructed from MWRI simulated Tbs, the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) combined data, and ancillary data resulting in about 100 000 rainfall profiles. The performance of MWRI retrievals is consistent with DPR observations, even though MWRI retrievals slightly overestimate low rain rates and underestimate high rain rates. The total bias of MWRI retrievals is less than 13% of the mean rain rate of DPR precipitation. Statistical comparisons over GMI GPROF, GMI Hurricane GPROF (HGPROF), and MWRI GPROF retrievals show MWRI GPROF retrievals are consistent in terms of spatial distribution and rain estimates for TCs compared with the other two estimates. In terms of the global precipitation, the mean rain rates at different distances from best track locations for five TC categories are used to identify substantial differences between mean MWRI and GMI GPROF retrievals. After correcting the biases between MWRI and GMI retrievals, the performance of MWRI retrievals shows slight overestimate for light rain rates while underestimating rain rates near the eyewall for category 4 and 5 only.

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David S. Henderson, Christian D. Kummerow, David A. Marks, and Wesley Berg

Abstract

Over the tropical oceans, large discrepancies in TRMM passive and active microwave rainfall retrievals become apparent during El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. This manuscript describes the application of defined precipitation regimes to aid the validation of instantaneous rain rates from TRMM using the S-band radar located on the Kwajalein Atoll. Through the evaluation of multiple case studies, biases in rain-rate estimates from the TRMM radar (PR) and radiometer (TMI) are best explained when derived as a function of precipitation organization (e.g., isolated vs organized) and precipitation type (convective vs stratiform). When examining biases at a 1° × 1° scale, large underestimates in both TMI and PR rain rates are associated with predominately convective events in deep isolated regimes, where TMI and PR retrievals are underestimated by 37.8% and 23.4%, respectively. Further, a positive bias of 33.4% is observed in TMI rain rates within organized convective systems containing large stratiform regions. These findings were found to be consistent using additional analysis from the DYNAMO field campaign. When validating at the TMI footprint scale, TMI–PR differences are driven by stratiform rainfall variability in organized regimes; TMI overestimates this stratiform precipitation by 92.3%. Discrepancies between TMI and PR during El Niño events are related to a shift toward more organized convective systems and derived TRMM rain-rate bias estimates are able to explain 70% of TMI–PR differences during El Niño periods. An extension of the results to passive microwave retrievals reveals issues in discriminating convective and stratiform rainfall within the TMI field of view (FOV), and significant reductions in bias are found when convective fraction is constrained within the Bayesian retrieval.

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Christian D. Kummerow, Sarah Ringerud, Jody Crook, David Randel, and Wesley Berg

Abstract

The combination of active and passive microwave sensors on board the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite have been used to construct observationally constrained databases of precipitation profiles for use in passive microwave rainfall retrieval algorithms over oceans. The method uses a very conservative approach that begins with the operational TRMM precipitation radar algorithm and adjusts its solution only as necessary to simultaneously match the radiometer observations. Where the TRMM precipitation radar (PR) indicates no rain, an optimal estimation procedure using TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) radiances is used to retrieve nonraining parameters. The optimal estimation methodology ensures that the geophysical parameters are fully consistent with the observed radiances. Within raining fields of view, cloud-resolving model outputs are matched to the liquid and frozen hydrometeor profiles retrieved by the TRMM PR. The profiles constructed in this manner are subsequently used to compute brightness temperatures that are immediately compared to coincident observations from TMI. Adjustments are made to the rainwater and ice concentrations derived by PR in order to achieve agreement at 19 and 85 GHz, vertically polarized brightness temperatures at monthly time scales. The database is generated only in the central 11 pixels of the PR radar scan, and the rain adjustment is performed independently for distinct sea surface temperature (SST) and total precipitable water (TPW) values. Overall, the procedure increases PR rainfall by 4.2%, but the adjustment is not uniform across all SST and TPW regimes. Rainfall differences range from a minimum of −57% for SST of 293 K and TPW of 13 mm to a maximum of +53% for SST of 293 K and TPW of 45 mm. These biases are generally reproduced by a TMI retrieval algorithm that uses the observationally generated database. The algorithm increases rainfall by 5.0% over the PR solution with a minimum of −99% for SST of 293 K and TPW of 14 mm to a maximum of +11.8% for an SST of 294 K and TPW of 50 mm. Some differences are expected because of the algorithm mechanics.

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Ethan L. Nelson, Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Stephen M. Saleeby, Wesley Berg, Stephen R. Herbener, and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

This paper outlines an approach for estimating latent heating, surface rainfall rate, and liquid water path in warm rain from downward-viewing W-band radar observations using a Bayesian Monte Carlo algorithm. The algorithm utilizes observed vertical and path-integrated characteristics of precipitating liquid clouds to identify the most appropriate hydrometeor and latent heating structures in a large database of profiles generated using a cloud-resolving model. These characteristics are selected by applying multiple performance metrics to synthetic retrievals. Analysis of the retrievals suggests that a combination of cloud-top, rain-top, and maximum reflectivity heights; vertically integrated reflectivity and attenuation; and a measure of near-surface intensity is sufficient to constrain bulk properties and the vertical structure of warm rain systems. When applied to observations at CloudSat resolution, biases in retrieved liquid water path and surface rainfall rate are small (less than 10%). The algorithm also captures the vertical structure of latent heating, although the magnitudes of integrated heating and cooling exhibit nearly compensating low biases. Random errors are larger owing to the limitations of single-frequency radar observations in constraining drop size distributions. Uncertainties in the altitudes of peak heating and cooling at the pixel scale are typically less than one vertical level, while uncertainties in vertically resolved estimates of heating and cooling rates are on the order of a factor of 2. The utility of the technique is illustrated through application to case studies from airborne radar data from the VAMOS Ocean–Cloud–Atmosphere–Land Study field campaign and satellite observations from CloudSat.

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Richard M. Schulte, Christian D. Kummerow, Wesley Berg, Steven C. Reising, Shannon T. Brown, Todd C. Gaier, Boon H. Lim, and Sharmila Padmanabhan

Abstract

The rapid development of miniaturized satellite instrument technology has created a new opportunity to deploy constellations of passive microwave (PMW) radiometers to permit retrievals of the same Earth scene with very high temporal resolution to monitor cloud evolution and processes. For such a concept to be feasible, it must be shown that it is possible to distinguish actual changes in the atmospheric state from the variability induced by making observations at different Earth incidence angles (EIAs). To this end, we present a flexible and physical optimal estimation-based algorithm designed to retrieve profiles of atmospheric water vapor, cloud liquid water path, and cloud ice water path from cross-track PMW sounders. The algorithm is able to explicitly account for the dependence of forward model errors on EIA and atmospheric regime. When the algorithm is applied to data from the Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Technology Demonstration (TEMPEST-D) CubeSat mission, its retrieved products are generally in agreement with those obtained from the similar but larger Microwave Humidity Sounder instrument. More importantly, when forward model brightness temperature offsets and assumed error covariances are allowed to change with EIA and sea surface temperature, view-angle-related biases are greatly reduced. This finding is confirmed in two ways: through a comparison with reanalysis data and by making use of brief periods in early 2019 during which the TEMPEST-D spacecraft was rotated such that its scan pattern was along track, allowing dozens of separate observations of any given atmospheric feature along the satellite’s ground track.

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Wesley Berg, Stephen Bilanow, Ruiyao Chen, Saswati Datta, David Draper, Hamideh Ebrahimi, Spencer Farrar, W. Linwood Jones, Rachael Kroodsma, Darren McKague, Vivienne Payne, James Wang, Thomas Wilheit, and John Xun Yang

Abstract

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission is a constellation-based satellite mission designed to unify and advance precipitation measurements using both research and operational microwave sensors. This requires consistency in the input brightness temperatures (Tb), which is accomplished by intercalibrating the constellation radiometers using the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) as the calibration reference. The first step in intercalibrating the sensors involves prescreening the sensor Tb to identify and correct for calibration biases across the scan or along the orbit path. Next, multiple techniques developed by teams within the GPM Intersatellite Calibration Working Group (XCAL) are used to adjust the calibrations of the constellation radiometers to be consistent with GMI. Comparing results from multiple approaches helps identify flaws or limitations of a given technique, increase confidence in the results, and provide a measure of the residual uncertainty. The original calibration differences relative to GMI are generally within 2–3 K for channels below 92 GHz, although AMSR2 exhibits larger differences that vary with scene temperature. SSMIS calibration differences also vary with scene temperature but to a lesser degree. For SSMIS channels above 150 GHz, the differences are generally within ~2 K with the exception of SSMIS on board DMSP F19, which ranges from 7 to 11 K colder than GMI depending on frequency. The calibrations of the cross-track radiometers agree very well with GMI with values mostly within 0.5 K for the Sondeur Atmosphérique du Profil d’Humidité Intertropicale par Radiométrie (SAPHIR) and the Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS) sensors, and within 1 K for the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS).

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