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Richard M. Schulte and Christian D. Kummerow

Abstract

A flexible and physical optimal estimation-based inversion algorithm for retrieving atmospheric water vapor and cloud liquid water path from passive microwave radiometers over the global oceans is presented. The algorithm’s main strength lies in its ability to explicitly account for forward model errors that depend on the Earth incidence angle (EIA) at which a given radiometer measurement is made. Validation of total precipitable water (TPW) retrieved from Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS) measurements against near-coincident estimates of TPW from SuomiNet GPS ground stations shows that retrieved TPW values agree closely with SuomiNet estimates, and somewhat better than values from the Microwave Integrated Retrieval System that are retrieved from the same MHS instruments. More importantly, it is found that the inclusion of appropriate forward model error assumptions, which are tailored to the EIA and sea surface temperature of the scene being considered, are able to almost entirely eliminate EIA-dependent biases in retrieved TPW. This result holds true across all satellites currently carrying an MHS instrument, despite the fact that only measurements from one satellite are used to estimate forward model errors. The consistency achieved by the retrieval algorithm across all view angles suggests that other inversion algorithms, particularly those for cross-track-scanning radiometers and potential future constellations of small satellites, would benefit from the inclusion of nuanced error assumptions that consider the effect of EIA.

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Gregory S. Elsaesser and Christian D. Kummerow

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Utilizing data from the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT), a new observational parameter related to mesoscale cold pool activity [termed cold pool kinetic energy (CPKE)] is developed and investigated. CPKE and the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) morphing technique (CMORPH) rainfall product (both scaled to 2.25°) are geolocated to 25 tropical island radiosonde sites. CPKE and radiosonde-derived nondilute CAPE, entraining CAPE (ECAPE), saturation fraction, and a new measure of convective inhibition (that takes into account stable layers above the LFC) are investigated with respect to rainfall time tendencies. Over the life cycle of rainfall, the composite temporal evolutions of CPKE and convective inhibition are quantitatively similar, but slightly out of phase. The maximum in CPKE precedes the maximum in convective inhibition by 3–6 h, thus allowing for an oscillation in the ratio of convective inhibition to CPKE relative to maximum rainfall. This ratio falls below unity at the time rainfall begins increasing and averages to near unity over the entire life cycle. These results imply a lagged, coupled relationship between CPKE and convective inhibition during rainfall. The rapid increase in rainfall occurs when saturation fraction and ECAPE exceed approximately 70% and 280 J kg−1, respectively, consistent with previously noted thresholds for deep convection transition. However, since similar thermodynamic conditions are found before the increase in rainfall, observations support a hypothesis that the onset time for transition from light to heavy rainfall occurs when triggering energy (as captured in CPKE) approaches and exceeds convective inhibition. The observed onset and time scale for CAPE depletion by convection is nearly equivalent to the initial temporal appearance and time duration (6–12 h) that CPKE exceeds convective inhibition.

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Nicolas Viltard, Corinne Burlaud, and Christian D. Kummerow

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This study focuses on improving the retrieval of rain from measured microwave brightness temperatures and the capability of the retrieved field to represent the mesoscale structure of a small intense hurricane. For this study, a database is constructed from collocated Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) data resulting in about 50 000 brightness temperature vectors associated with their corresponding rain-rate profiles. The database is then divided in two: a retrieval database of about 35 000 rain profiles and a test database of about 25 000 rain profiles. Although in principle this approach is used to build a database over both land and ocean, the results presented here are only given for ocean surfaces, for which the conditions for the retrieval are optimal. An algorithm is built using the retrieval database. This algorithm is then used on the test database, and results show that the error can be constrained to reasonable levels for most of the observed rain ranges. The relative error is nonetheless sensitive to the rain rate, with maximum errors at the low and high ends of the rain intensities (+60% and −30%, respectively) and a minimum error between 1 and 7 mm h−1. The retrieval method is optimized to exhibit a low total bias for climatological purposes and thus shows a high standard deviation on point-to-point comparisons. The algorithm is applied to the case of Hurricane Bret (1999). The retrieved rain field is analyzed in terms of structure and intensity and is then compared with the TRMM PR original rain field. The results show that the mesoscale structures are indeed well reproduced even if the retrieved rain misses the highest peaks of precipitation. Nevertheless, the mesoscale asymmetries are well reproduced and the maximum rain is found in the correct quadrant. Once again, the total bias is low, which allows for future calculation of the heat sources/sinks associated with precipitation production and evaporation.

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S. Joseph Munchak and Christian D. Kummerow

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Although zonal mean rain rates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) are in good (<10%) agreement between the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) and precipitation radar (PR) rainfall algorithms, significant uncertainties remain in some regions where these estimates differ by as much as 30% over the period of record. Previous comparisons of these algorithms with ground validation (GV) rainfall have shown significant (>10%) biases of differing sign at various GV locations. Reducing these biases is important in the context of developing a database of cloud profiles for passive microwave retrievals that is based upon the PR-measured profiles. A retrieval framework based upon optimal estimation theory is proposed wherein three parameters describing the raindrop size distribution (DSD), ice particle size distribution, and cloud water path (cLWP) are retrieved for each radar profile. The modular nature of the framework provides the opportunity to test the sensitivity of the retrieval to the inclusion of different measurements, retrieved parameters, and models for microwave scattering properties of hydrometeors. The retrieved rainfall rate is found to be strongly sensitive to the a priori constraints in DSD and cLWP; thus, these parameters are tuned to match polarimetric radar estimates of rainfall near Kwajalein, Republic of Marshall Islands. An independent validation against gauge-tuned radar rainfall estimates at Melbourne, Florida, shows agreement within 2%, which exceeds previous algorithms’ ability to match rainfall at these two sites. Errors between observed and simulated brightness temperatures are reduced and climatological features of the DSD, as measured by disdrometers at these two locations, are also reproduced in the output of the combined algorithm.

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Gregory S. Elsaesser and Christian D. Kummerow

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In light of the upcoming launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, a parametric retrieval algorithm of the nonraining parameters over the global oceans is developed with the ability to accommodate all currently existing and planned spaceborne microwave window channel sensors and imagers. The physical retrieval is developed using all available sensor channels in a full optimal estimation inversion. This framework requires that retrieved parameters be physically consistent with all observed satellite radiances regardless of the sensor being used. The retrieval algorithm has been successfully applied to the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System (AMSR-E), the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I), and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) with geophysical parameter retrieval results comparable to independent studies using sensor-optimized algorithms. The optimal estimation diagnostics characterize the retrieval further, providing errors associated with each of the retrieved parameters, indicating whether the retrieved state is physically consistent with observed radiances, and yielding information on how well simulated radiances agree with observed radiances. This allows for the quantitative assessment of potential calibration issues in either the model or sensor. In addition, there is an expected, consistent response of these diagnostics based on the scene being observed, such as in the case of a raining scene, allowing for the emergence of a rainfall detection scheme providing a new capability in rainfall identification for use in passive microwave rainfall and cloud property retrievals.

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Paula J. Brown and Christian D. Kummerow

Abstract

Balancing global moisture budgets is a difficult task that is even more challenging at regional scales. Atmospheric water budget components are investigated within five tropical (15°S–15°N) ocean regions, including the Indian Ocean, three Pacific regions, and one Atlantic region, to determine how well data products balance these budgets. Initially, a selection of independent observations and a reanalysis product are evaluated to determine overall closure, between 1998 and 2007. Satellite-based observations from SeaFlux evaporation and Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) precipitation, together with Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) data products, were chosen. Freshwater flux (evaporation minus precipitation) observations and reanalysis atmospheric moisture divergence regional averages are assessed for closure. Moisture budgets show the best closure over the Indian Ocean with a correlation of 89% and an overall imbalance of −3.0% of the anomalies. Of the five regions, the western Pacific Ocean region produces the worst atmospheric moisture budget closure of −21.1%, despite a high correlation of 93%. Average closure over the five regions is within 8.1%, and anomalies are correlated at 83%. ERA-Interim and Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) evaporation rates are 29 and 19 mm month−1 greater than SeaFlux, respectively. To diagnose the differences, wind speed and humidity gradients of the three products are compared utilizing the bulk formula for evaporation. SeaFlux wind speeds are higher, but sea–air humidity gradients are lower. Higher humidity gradients in the reanalyses are due to much dryer near-surface air in ERA-Interim, and the same to a lesser degree in MERRA. These differences counteract each other somewhat, but overall humidity biases exceed wind biases. This is consistent with buoy observations.

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Gregory S. Elsaesser and Christian D. Kummerow

Abstract

The Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF) uses Bayesian probability theory to retrieve rainfall over the global oceans. A critical component of GPROF and most Bayes theorem–based retrieval frameworks is the specification of uncertainty in the observations being utilized to retrieve the parameter of interest. In the case of GPROF, for any sensor, uncertainties in microwave brightness temperatures (Tbs) arise from radiative transfer model errors, satellite sensor noise and/or degradation, and nonlinear, scene-dependent Tb offsets added during sensor intercalibration procedures. All mentioned sources impact sensors in a varying fashion, in part because of sensor-dependent fields of view. It is found that small errors in assumed Tb uncertainty (ranging from 0.57 K at 10 GHz to 2.29 K at 85 GHz) lead to a 3.6% change in the retrieved global-average oceanic rainfall rate, and 10%–20% (20%–40%) shifts in the pixel-level (monthly) frequency distributions for given rainfall bins. A mathematical expression describing the sensitivity of retrieved rainfall to uncertainty is developed here. The strong global sensitivity is linked to rainfall variance scaling systematically as Tb varies. For ocean scenes, the same emission-dominated rainfall–Tb physics used in passive microwave rainfall retrieval is also responsible for the substantial underestimation (overestimation) of global rainfall if uncertainty is overestimated (underestimated). Proper uncertainties are required to quantify variability in surface rainfall, assess long-term trends, and provide robust rainfall benchmarks for general circulation model evaluations. The implications for assessing global and regional biases in active versus passive microwave rainfall products, and for achieving rainfall product agreement among a constellation of orbiting microwave radiometers [employed in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission], are also discussed.

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Peter Bauer, Paul Amayenc, Christian D. Kummerow, and Eric A. Smith

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The objective of this paper is to establish a computationally efficient algorithm making use of the combination of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) and precipitation radar (PR) observations. To set up the TMI algorithm, the retrieval databases developed in Part I served as input for different inversion techniques: multistage regressions and neural networks as well as Bayesian estimators. It was found that both Bayesian and neural network techniques performed equally well against PR estimates if all TMI channels were used. However, not using the 85.5-GHz channels produced consistently better results. This confirms the conclusions from Part I. Generally, regressions performed worse; thus they seem less suited for general application due to the insufficient representation of the nonlinearities of the TB–rain rate relation. It is concluded that the databases represent the most sensitive part of rainfall algorithm development.

Sensor combination was carried out by gridding PR estimates of rain liquid water content to 27 km × 44 km horizontal resolution at the center of gravity of the TMI 10.65-GHz channel weighting function. A liquid water dependent database collects common samples over the narrow swath covered by both TMI and PR. Average calibration functions are calculated, dynamically updated along the satellite track, and applied to the full TMI swath. The behavior of the calibration function was relatively stable. The TMI estimates showed a slight underestimation of rainfall at low rain liquid water contents (<0.1 g m−3) as well as at very high rainfall intensities (>0.8 g m−3) and excellent agreement in between. The biases were found to not depend on beam filling with a strong correlation to rain liquid water for stratiform clouds that may point to melting layer effects.

The remaining standard deviations between instantaneous TMI and PR estimates after calibration may be treated as a total retrieval error, assuming the PR estimates are unbiased. The error characteristics showed a rather constant absolute error of <0.05 g m−3 for rain liquid water contents <0.1 g m−3. Above, the error increases to 0.6 g m−3 for amounts up to 1 g m−3. In terms of relative errors, this corresponds to a sharp decrease from >100% to 35% between 0.05 and 0.5 g m−3. The database ambiguity, that is, the standard deviation of near-surface rain liquid water contents with the same radiometric signature, provides a means to estimate the contribution from the simulations to this error. In the range where brightness temperatures respond most sensitively to rainwater contents, almost the entire error originates from the ambiguity of signatures. At very low and very high rain rates (<0.05 and >0.7 g m−3) at least half of the total error is explained by the inversion process.

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Paula J. Brown, Christian D. Kummerow, and David L. Randel

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The Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF) is an operational passive microwave retrieval that uses a Bayesian scheme to estimate rainfall. GPROF 2014 retrieves rainfall and hydrometeor vertical profile information based upon a database of profiles constructed to be simultaneously consistent with Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) observations. A small number of tropical cyclones are in the current database constructed from one year of TRMM data, resulting in the retrieval performing relatively poorly for these systems, particularly for the highest rain rates. To address this deficiency, a new database focusing specifically on hurricanes but consisting of 9 years of TRMM data is created. The new database and retrieval procedure for TMI and GMI is called Hurricane GPROF. An initial assessment of seven tropical cyclones shows that Hurricane GPROF provides a better estimate of hurricane rain rates than GPROF 2014. Hurricane GPROF rain-rate errors relative to the PR are reduced by 20% compared to GPROF, with improvements in the lowest and highest rain rates especially. Vertical profile retrievals for four hydrometeors are also enhanced, as error is reduced by 30% compared to the GPROF retrieval, relative to PR estimates. When compared to the full database of tropical cyclones, Hurricane GPROF improves the RMSE and MAE of rain-rate estimates over those from GPROF by about 22% and 27%, respectively. Similar improvements are also seen in the overall rain-rate bias for hurricanes in the database, which is reduced from 0.20 to −0.06 mm h−1.

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

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Discrepancies between Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) oceanic rainfall retrievals are prevalent between El Niño and La Niña conditions with TMI exhibiting systematic shifts in precipitation. To investigate the causality of this relationship, this paper focuses on the evolution of precipitation organization between El Niño and La Niña and their impacts on TRMM precipitation. The results indicate that discrepancies are related to shifts from isolated deep convection during La Niña toward organized precipitation during El Niño with the largest variability occurring in the Pacific basins. During El Niño, organized systems are more frequent, have increased areal coverage of stratiform rainfall, and penetrate deeper into the troposphere compared to La Niña. The increased stratiform raining fraction leads to larger increases in TMI rain rates than PR rain rate retrievals. Reanalysis and water vapor data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) indicate that organized systems are aided by midtropospheric moisture increases accompanied by increased convective frequency. During La Niña, tropical rainfall is dominated by isolated deep convection due to drier midtropospheric conditions and strong mid- and upper-level zonal wind shear. To examine tropical rainfall–sea surface temperature relations, regime-based bias corrections derived using ground validation (GV) measurements are applied to the TRMM rain estimates. The robust connection with GV-derived biases and oceanic precipitation leads to a reduction in TMI-PR regional differences and tropics-wide precipitation anomalies. The improved agreement between PR and TMI estimates yields positive responses of precipitation to tropical SSTs of 10% °C−1 and 17% °C−1, respectively, consistent with 15% °C−1 from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP).

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