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Chris Kidd, Erin Dawkins, and George Huffman

Abstract

Precipitation is an important component of the climate system, and the accurate representation of the diurnal rainfall cycle is a key test of model performance. Although the modeling of precipitation in the cooler midlatitudes has improved, in the tropics substantial errors still occur. Precipitation from the operational ECMWF forecast model is compared with satellite-derived products from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) and TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR) to assess the mean annual and seasonal diurnal rainfall cycles. The analysis encompasses the global tropics and subtropics (40°N–40°S) over a 7-yr period from 2004 to 2011. The primary aim of the paper is to evaluate the ability of an operational numerical model and satellite products to retrieve subdaily rainfall. It was found that during the first half of the analysis period the ECMWF model overestimated precipitation by up to 15% in the tropics, although after the implementation of a new convective parameterization in November 2007 this bias fell to about 4%. The ECMWF model poorly represented the diurnal cycle, simulating rainfall too early compared to the TMPA and TRMM PR products; the model simulation of precipitation was particularly poor over Indonesia. In addition, the model did not appear to simulate mountain-slope breezes well or adequately capture many of the characteristics of mesoscale convective systems. The work highlights areas for further study to improve the representation of subgrid-scale processes in parameterization schemes and improvements in model resolution. In particular, the proper representation of subdaily precipitation in models is critical for hydrological modeling and flow forecasting.

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Victoria L. Sanderson, Chris Kidd, and Glenn R. McGregor

Abstract

This paper uses rainfall estimates retrieved from active and passive microwave data to investigate how spatially and temporally dependent algorithm biases affect the monitoring of the diurnal rainfall cycle. Microwave estimates used in this study are from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and include the precipitation radar (PR) near-surface (2A25), Goddard Profiling (GPROF) (2A12), and PR–TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) (2B31) rain rates from the version 5 (v5) 3G68 product. A rainfall maximum is observed early evening over land, while oceans generally show a minimum in rainfall during the morning. Comparisons of annual and seasonal mean hourly rain rates and harmonics at both global and regional scales show significant differences between the algorithms. Relative and absolute biases over land vary according to the time of day. Clearly, these retrieval biases need accounting for, either in the physics of the algorithm or through the provision of accurate error estimates, to avoid erroneous climatic signals and the discrediting of satellite rainfall estimations.

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Chris Kidd, Toshihisa Matsui, Jiundar Chern, Karen Mohr, Chris Kummerow, and Dave Randel

Abstract

The estimation of precipitation across the globe from satellite sensors provides a key resource in the observation and understanding of our climate system. Estimates from all pertinent satellite observations are critical in providing the necessary temporal sampling. However, consistency in these estimates from instruments with different frequencies and resolutions is critical. This paper details the physically based retrieval scheme to estimate precipitation from cross-track (XT) passive microwave (PM) sensors on board the constellation satellites of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. Here the Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF), a physically based Bayesian scheme developed for conically scanning (CS) sensors, is adapted for use with XT PM sensors. The present XT GPROF scheme utilizes a model-generated database to overcome issues encountered with an observational database as used by the CS scheme. The model database ensures greater consistency across meteorological regimes and surface types by providing a more comprehensive set of precipitation profiles. The database is corrected for bias against the CS database to ensure consistency in the final product. Statistical comparisons over western Europe and the United States show that the XT GPROF estimates are comparable with those from the CS scheme. Indeed, the XT estimates have higher correlations against surface radar data, while maintaining similar root-mean-square errors. Latitudinal profiles of precipitation show the XT estimates are generally comparable with the CS estimates, although in the southern midlatitudes the peak precipitation is shifted equatorward while over the Arctic large differences are seen between the XT and the CS retrievals.

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Catherine L. Muller, Andy Baker, Ian J. Fairchild, Chris Kidd, and Ian Boomer

Abstract

Annual, monthly, and daily analyses of stable isotopes in precipitation are commonly made worldwide, yet only a few studies have explored the variations occurring on short time scales within individual precipitation events, particularly at midlatitude locations. This study examines hydrogen isotope data from sequential, intra-event samples from 16 precipitation events during different seasons and a range of synoptic conditions over an 18-month period in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Precipitation events were observed simultaneously using a vertically pointing micro rain radar (MRR), which, for the first time at a midlatitude location, allowed high-resolution examination of the microphysical characteristics (e.g., rain rate, fall velocity, and drop size distributions) that may influence the local isotopic composition of rainwater. The range in the hydrogen isotope ratio (δD, where D refers to deuterium) in 242 samples during 16 events was from −87.0‰ to +9.2‰, while the largest variation observed in a single event was 55.4‰. In contrast to previous work, the results indicate that some midlatitude precipitation events do indeed show significant intra-event trends that are strongly influenced by precipitation processes and parameters such as rain rate, melting-level height, and droplet sizes. Inverse relationships between rain rate and isotopic composition are observed, representing an example of a local type of “amount effect,” a still poorly understood process occurring at different scales. For these particular events, the mean δ value may therefore not provide all the relevant information. This work has significance for the testing and development of isotope-enabled cloud-resolving models and land surface models at higher resolutions, and it provides improved insights into a range of environmental processes that are influenced by subsampled precipitation events.

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Chris Kidd, Dominic R. Kniveton, Martin C. Todd, and Tim J. Bellerby

Abstract

The development of a combined infrared and passive microwave satellite rainfall estimation technique is outlined. Infrared data from geostationary satellites are combined with polar-orbiting passive microwave estimates to provide 30-min rainfall estimates. Collocated infrared and passive microwave values are used to generate a database, which is accessed by a cumulative histogram matching approach to generate an infrared temperature–rain-rate relationship. The technique produces initial estimates at 30-min and 12-km resolution ready to be aggregated to the user requirements. A 4-month case study over Africa has been chosen to compare the results from this technique with those of some existing rainfall techniques. The results indicate that the technique outlined here has statistical scores that are similar to other infrared/passive microwave combined algorithms. Comparison with the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) precipitation index shows that while these algorithms result in lower correlation scores, areal statistics are significantly better than either the infrared or passive microwave techniques alone.

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Yalei You, Veljko Petkovic, Jackson Tan, Rachael Kroodsma, Wesley Berg, Chris Kidd, and Christa Peters-Lidard

Abstract

This study assesses the level-2 precipitation estimates from 10 radiometers relative to Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) in two parts. First, nine sensors—four imagers [Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) and three Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounders (SSMISs)] and five sounders [Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) and four Microwave Humidity Sounders (MHSs)]—are evaluated over the 65°S–65°N region. Over ocean, imagers outperform sounders, primarily due to the usage of low-frequency channels. Furthermore, AMSR2 is clearly superior to SSMISs, likely due to the finer footprint size. Over land all sensors perform similarly except the noticeably worse performance from ATMS and SSMIS-F17. Second, we include the Sondeur Atmospherique du Profil d’Humidite Intertropicale par Radiometrie (SAPHIR) into the evaluation process, contrasting it against other sensors in the SAPHIR latitudes (30°S–30°N). SAPHIR has a slightly worse detection capability than other sounders over ocean but comparable detection performance to MHSs over land. The intensity estimates from SAPHIR show a larger normalized root-mean-square-error over both land and ocean, likely because only 183.3-GHz channels are available. Currently, imagers are preferred to sounders when level-2 estimates are incorporated into level-3 products. Our results suggest a sensor-specific priority order. Over ocean, this study indicates a priority order of AMSR2, SSMISs, MHSs and ATMS, and SAPHIR. Over land, SSMIS-F17, ATMS and SAPHIR should be given a lower priority than the other sensors.

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