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Chris Kidd, Ralph Ferraro, and Vincenzo Levizzani

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Elizabeth E. Ebert, John E. Janowiak, and Chris Kidd

An increasing number of satellite-based rainfall products are now available in near–real time over the Internet to help meet the needs of weather forecasters and climate scientists, as well as a wide range of decision makers, including hydrologists, agriculturalists, emergency managers, and industrialists. Many of these satellite products are so newly developed that a comprehensive evaluation has not yet been undertaken. This article provides potential users of short-interval satellite rainfall estimates with information on the accuracy of such estimates. Since late 2002 the authors have been performing daily validation and intercomparisons of several operational satellite rainfall retrieval algorithms over Australia, the United States, and northwestern Europe. Short-range quantitative precipitation forecasts from four numerical weather prediction (NWP) models are also included for comparison.

Synthesis of four years of daily rainfall validation results shows that the satellite-derived estimates of precipitation occurrence, amount, and intensity are most accurate during the warm season and at lower latitudes, where the rainfall is primarily convective in nature. In contrast, the NWP models perform better than the satellite estimates during the cool season when non-convective precipitation is dominant. An optimal rain-monitoring strategy for remote regions might therefore judiciously combine information from both satellite and NWP models.

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Chris Kidd, Andreas Becker, George J. Huffman, Catherine L. Muller, Paul Joe, Gail Skofronick-Jackson, and Dalia B. Kirschbaum

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The measurement of global precipitation, both rainfall and snowfall, is critical to a wide range of users and applications. Rain gauges are indispensable in the measurement of precipitation, remaining the de facto standard for precipitation information across Earth’s surface for hydrometeorological purposes. However, their distribution across the globe is limited: over land their distribution and density is variable, while over oceans very few gauges exist and where measurements are made, they may not adequately reflect the rainfall amounts of the broader area. Critically, the number of gauges available, or appropriate for a particular study, varies greatly across the Earth owing to temporal sampling resolutions, periods of operation, data latency, and data access. Numbers of gauges range from a few thousand available in near–real time to about 100,000 for all “official” gauges, and to possibly hundreds of thousands if all possible gauges are included. Gauges routinely used in the generation of global precipitation products cover an equivalent area of between about 250 and 3,000 m2. For comparison, the center circle of a soccer pitch or tennis court is about 260 m2. Although each gauge should represent more than just the gauge orifice, autocorrelation distances of precipitation vary greatly with regime and the integration period. Assuming each Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC)–available gauge is independent and represents a surrounding area of 5-km radius, this represents only about 1% of Earth’s surface. The situation is further confounded for snowfall, which has a greater measurement uncertainty.

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Gail Skofronick-Jackson, Walter A. Petersen, Wesley Berg, Chris Kidd, Erich F. Stocker, Dalia B. Kirschbaum, Ramesh Kakar, Scott A. Braun, George J. Huffman, Toshio Iguchi, Pierre E. Kirstetter, Christian Kummerow, Robert Meneghini, Riko Oki, William S. Olson, Yukari N. Takayabu, Kinji Furukawa, and Thomas Wilheit

Abstract

Precipitation is a key source of freshwater; therefore, observing global patterns of precipitation and its intensity is important for science, society, and understanding our planet in a changing climate. In 2014, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory (CO) spacecraft. The GPM CO carries the most advanced precipitation sensors currently in space including a dual-frequency precipitation radar provided by JAXA for measuring the three-dimensional structures of precipitation and a well-calibrated, multifrequency passive microwave radiometer that provides wide-swath precipitation data. The GPM CO was designed to measure rain rates from 0.2 to 110.0 mm h−1 and to detect moderate to intense snow events. The GPM CO serves as a reference for unifying the data from a constellation of partner satellites to provide next-generation, merged precipitation estimates globally and with high spatial and temporal resolutions. Through improved measurements of rain and snow, precipitation data from GPM provides new information such as details on precipitation structure and intensity; observations of hurricanes and typhoons as they transition from the tropics to the midlatitudes; data to advance near-real-time hazard assessment for floods, landslides, and droughts; inputs to improve weather and climate models; and insights into agricultural productivity, famine, and public health. Since launch, GPM teams have calibrated satellite instruments, refined precipitation retrieval algorithms, expanded science investigations, and processed and disseminated precipitation data for a range of applications. The current status of GPM, its ongoing science, and its future plans are presented.

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M. Ades, R. Adler, Rob Allan, R. P. Allan, J. Anderson, Anthony Argüez, C. Arosio, J. A. Augustine, C. Azorin-Molina, J. Barichivich, J. Barnes, H. E. Beck, Andreas Becker, Nicolas Bellouin, Angela Benedetti, David I. Berry, Stephen Blenkinsop, Olivier. Bock, Michael G. Bosilovich, Olivier. Boucher, S. A. Buehler, Laura. Carrea, Hanne H. Christiansen, F. Chouza, John R. Christy, E.-S. Chung, Melanie Coldewey-Egbers, Gil P. Compo, Owen R. Cooper, Curt Covey, A. Crotwell, Sean M. Davis, Elvira de Eyto, Richard A. M de Jeu, B.V. VanderSat, Curtis L. DeGasperi, Doug Degenstein, Larry Di Girolamo, Martin T. Dokulil, Markus G. Donat, Wouter A. Dorigo, Imke Durre, Geoff S. Dutton, G. Duveiller, James W. Elkins, Vitali E. Fioletov, Johannes Flemming, Michael J. Foster, Richard A. Frey, Stacey M. Frith, Lucien Froidevaux, J. Garforth, S. K. Gupta, Leopold Haimberger, Brad D. Hall, Ian Harris, Andrew K Heidinger, D. L. Hemming, Shu-peng (Ben) Ho, Daan Hubert, Dale F. Hurst, I. Hüser, Antje Inness, K. Isaksen, Viju John, Philip D. Jones, J. W. Kaiser, S. Kelly, S. Khaykin, R. Kidd, Hyungiun Kim, Z. Kipling, B. M. Kraemer, D. P. Kratz, R. S. La Fuente, Xin Lan, Kathleen O. Lantz, T. Leblanc, Bailing Li, Norman G Loeb, Craig S. Long, Diego Loyola, Wlodzimierz Marszelewski, B. Martens, Linda May, Michael Mayer, M. F. McCabe, Tim R. McVicar, Carl A. Mears, W. Paul Menzel, Christopher J. Merchant, Ben R. Miller, Diego G. Miralles, Stephen A. Montzka, Colin Morice, Jens Mühle, R. Myneni, Julien P. Nicolas, Jeannette Noetzli, Tim J. Osborn, T. Park, A. Pasik, Andrew M. Paterson, Mauri S. Pelto, S. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, G. Pétron, C. Phillips, Bernard Pinty, S. Po-Chedley, L. Polvani, W. Preimesberger, M. Pulkkanen, W. J. Randel, Samuel Rémy, L. Ricciardulli, A. D. Richardson, L. Rieger, David A. Robinson, Matthew Rodell, Karen H. Rosenlof, Chris Roth, A. Rozanov, James A. Rusak, O. Rusanovskaya, T. Rutishäuser, Ahira Sánchez-Lugo, P. Sawaengphokhai, T. Scanlon, Verena Schenzinger, S. Geoffey Schladow, R. W Schlegel, Eawag Schmid, Martin, H. B. Selkirk, S. Sharma, Lei Shi, S. V. Shimaraeva, E. A. Silow, Adrian J. Simmons, C. A. Smith, Sharon L Smith, B. J. Soden, Viktoria Sofieva, T. H. Sparks, Paul W. Stackhouse Jr., Wolfgang Steinbrecht, Dimitri A. Streletskiy, G. Taha, Hagen Telg, S. J. Thackeray, M. A. Timofeyev, Kleareti Tourpali, Mari R. Tye, Ronald J. van der A, Robin, VanderSat B.V. van der Schalie, Gerard van der SchrierW. Paul, Guido R. van der Werf, Piet Verburg, Jean-Paul Vernier, Holger Vömel, Russell S. Vose, Ray Wang, Shohei G. Watanabe, Mark Weber, Gesa A. Weyhenmeyer, David Wiese, Anne C. Wilber, Jeanette D. Wild, Takmeng Wong, R. Iestyn Woolway, Xungang Yin, Lin Zhao, Guanguo Zhao, Xinjia Zhou, Jerry R. Ziemke, and Markus Ziese
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