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Ali Behrangi
,
Terry Kubar
, and
Bjorn Lambrigtsen

Abstract

Two years of tropical oceanic cloud observations are analyzed using the operational CloudSat cloud classification product and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) lidar. Relationships are examined between cloud types, sea surface temperature (SST), and location during the CloudSat early morning and afternoon overpasses. Based on CloudSat and combined lidar–radar products, the maximum and minimum cloud fractions occur at SSTs near 303 and 299 K, respectively, corresponding to deep convective/detrained cloud populations and the transition from shallow to deep convection. For SSTs below approximately 301 K, low clouds (stratiform and stratocumulus) are dominant (cloud fraction between 0.15 and 0.37) whereas high clouds are dominant for SSTs greater than about 301 K (cloud fraction between 0.18 and 0.28). Consistent with previous studies, most tropical low clouds are associated with lower SSTs, with a strong inverse linear relationship between low cloud frequency and SST. For all cloud types except nimbostratus, stratus, and stratocumulus, a sharp increase in frequency of occurrence is observed for SSTs between 299 and 300.5 K, deduced as the onset of deeper convection. Peak fractions of high, deep convective, altostratus, and altocumulus clouds occur at SSTs close to 303 K, while cumulus clouds, which have lower tops, show a smooth cloud fractional peak about 2° cooler. Deep convective and other high cloud types decrease sharply above SSTs of 303 K, in accordance with previous work suggesting a narrow window of tropical deep convection. Finally, significant cloud frequency differences exist between CloudSat early morning and afternoon overpasses, suggesting a diurnal cycle of some cloud types, particularly stratocumulus, high, and deep convective clouds.

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Ali Behrangi
,
Hai Nguyen
, and
Stephanie Granger

Abstract

In the present work, a probabilistic ensemble method using the bootstrap is developed to predict the future state of the standard precipitation index (SPI) commonly used for drought monitoring. The methodology is data driven and has the advantage of being easily extended to use more than one variable as predictors. Using 110 years of monthly observations of precipitaton, surface air temperature, and the Niño-3.4 index, the method was employed to assess the impact of the different variables in enhancing the prediction skill. A predictive probability density function (PDF) is produced for future 6-month SPI, and a log-likelihood skill score is used to cross compare various combination scenarios using the entire predictive PDF and with reference to the observed values set aside for validation. The results suggest that the multivariate prediction using complementary information from 3- and 6-month SPI and initial surface air temperature significantly improves seasonal prediction skills for capturing drought severity and delineation of drought areas based on observed 6-month SPI. The improvement is observed across all seasons and regions over the continental United States relative to other prediction scenarios that ignore the surface air temperature information.

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Ali Behrangi
,
Koulin Hsu
,
Bisher Imam
, and
Soroosh Sorooshian

Abstract

Two previously developed Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN) algorithms that incorporate cloud classification system (PERSIANN-CCS) and multispectral analysis (PERSIANN-MSA) are integrated and employed to analyze the role of cloud albedo from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-12 (GOES-12) visible (0.65 μm) channel in supplementing infrared (10.7 mm) data. The integrated technique derives finescale (0.04° × 0.04° latitude–longitude every 30 min) rain rate for each grid box through four major steps: 1) segmenting clouds into a number of cloud patches using infrared or albedo images; 2) classification of cloud patches into a number of cloud types using radiative, geometrical, and textural features for each individual cloud patch; 3) classification of each cloud type into a number of subclasses and assigning rain rates to each subclass using a multidimensional histogram matching method; and 4) associating satellite gridbox information to the appropriate corresponding cloud type and subclass to estimate rain rate in grid scale. The technique was applied over a study region that includes the U.S. landmass east of 115°W. One reference infrared-only and three different bispectral (visible and infrared) rain estimation scenarios were compared to investigate the technique’s ability to address two major drawbacks of infrared-only methods: 1) underestimating warm rainfall and 2) the inability to screen out no-rain thin cirrus clouds. Radar estimates were used to evaluate the scenarios at a range of temporal (3 and 6 hourly) and spatial (0.04°, 0.08°, 0.12°, and 0.24° latitude–longitude) scales. Overall, the results using daytime data during June–August 2006 indicate that significant gain over infrared-only technique is obtained once albedo is used for cloud segmentation followed by bispectral cloud classification and rainfall estimation. At 3-h, 0.04° resolution, the observed improvement using bispectral information was about 66% for equitable threat score and 26% for the correlation coefficient. At coarser 0.24° resolution, the gains were 34% and 32% for the two performance measures, respectively.

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Hartmut H. Aumann
,
Alexander Ruzmaikin
, and
Ali Behrangi

Abstract

The global-mean top-of-atmosphere incident solar radiation (ISR) minus the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and the reflected shortwave radiation (RSW) is the net incident radiation (NET). This study analyzes the global-mean NET sensitivity to a change in the global-mean surface temperature by applying the interannual anomaly correlation technique to 9 yr of Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) global measurements of RSW and OLR under cloudy and clear conditions. The study finds the observed sensitivity of NET that includes the effects of clouds to be −1.5 ± 0.25 (1σ) W m−2 K−1 and the clear NET sensitivity to be −2.0 ± 0.2 (1σ) W m−2 K−1, consistent with previous work using Earth Radiation Budget Experiment and Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System data. The cloud effect, +0.5 ± 0.2 (1σ) W m−2 K−1, is a positive component of the NET sensitivity. The similarity of the NET sensitivities derived from forced and unforced models invites a comparison between the observed sensitivities and the effective sensitivities calculated for the Fourth Assessment Report models, although this requires some caution: The effective model sensitivities with clouds range from −0.88 to −1.64 W m−2 K−1, the clear NET sensitivity in the models ranges from −2.32 to −1.73 W m−2 K−1, and the cloud forcing sensitivities range from +0.14 to +1.18 W m−2 K−1. The effective NET and clear NET sensitivities derived from the models are statistically consistent with those derived from the AIRS data, considering the observational and model derivation uncertainties.

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Hooman Ayat
,
Jason P. Evans
,
Steven Sherwood
, and
Ali Behrangi

Abstract

High-resolution datasets offer the potential to improve our understanding of spatial and temporal precipitation patterns and storm structures. The goal of this study is to evaluate the similarities and differences of object-based storm characteristics as observed using space- or land-based sensors. The Method of Object-based Diagnostic Evaluation (MODE) Time Domain (MTD) is used to identify and track storm objects in two high-resolution merged datasets: the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) final product V06B and gauge-corrected ground-radar-based Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) quantitative precipitation estimations. Characteristics associated with landfalling hurricanes were also examined as a separate category of storm. The results reveal that IMERG and MRMS agree reasonably well across many object-based storm characteristics. However, there are some discrepancies that are statistically significant. MRMS storms are more concentrated, with smaller areas and higher peak intensities, which implies higher flash flood risks associated with the storms. On the other hand, IMERG storms can travel longer distances with a higher volume of precipitation, which implies higher risk of riverine flooding. Agreement between the datasets is higher for faster-moving hurricanes in terms of the averaged intensity. Finally, MRMS indicates a higher average precipitation intensity during the hurricane’s lifetime. However, in non-hurricanes, the opposite result was observed. This is likely related to MRMS having higher resolution; monitoring the hurricanes from many viewing angles, leading to different signal saturation properties compared to IMERG; and/or the dominance of droplet aggregation effects over evaporation effects at lower altitudes.

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Guoqiang Tang
,
Ali Behrangi
,
Ziqiang Ma
,
Di Long
, and
Yang Hong

Abstract

Precipitation phase has an important influence on hydrological processes. The Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) uses temperature data from reanalysis products to implement rain–snow classification. However, the coarse resolution of reanalysis data may not reveal the spatiotemporal variabilities of temperature, necessitating appropriate downscaling methods. This study compares the performance of eight air temperature T a downscaling methods in the contiguous United States and six mountain ranges using temperature from the Parameter-Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) as the benchmark. ERA-Interim T a is downscaled from the original 0.75° to 0.1°. The results suggest that the two purely statistical downscaling methods [nearest neighbor (NN) and bilinear interpolation (BI)] show similar performance with each other. The five downscaling methods based on the free-air temperature lapse rate (TLR), which is calculated using temperature and geopotential heights at different pressure levels, notably improves the accuracy of T a . The improvement is particularly obvious in mountainous regions. We further calculated wet-bulb temperature T w , for rain–snow classification, using T a and dewpoint temperature from ERA-Interim and PRISM. TLR-based downscaling methods result in more accurate T w compared to NN and BI in the western United States, whereas the improvement is limited in the eastern United States. Rain–snow partitioning is conducted using a critical threshold of T w with Snow Data Assimilation System (SNODAS) snowfall data serving as the benchmark. ERA-Interim-based T w using TLR downscaling methods is better than that using NN/BI and IMERG precipitation phase. In conclusion, TLR-based downscaling methods show promising prospects in acquiring high-quality T a and T w with high resolution and improving rain–snow partitioning, particularly in mountainous regions.

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Ali Behrangi
,
Bin Guan
,
Paul J. Neiman
,
Mathias Schreier
, and
Bjorn Lambrigtsen

Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are often associated with extreme precipitation, which can lead to flooding or alleviate droughts. A decade (2003–12) of landfalling ARs impacting the North American west coast (between 32.5° and 52.5°N) is collected to assess the skill of five commonly used satellite-based precipitation products [T3B42, T3B42 real-time (T3B42RT), CPC morphing technique (CMORPH), PERSIANN, and PERSIANN–Cloud Classification System (CCS)] in capturing ARs’ precipitation rate and pattern. AR detection was carried out using a database containing twice-daily satellite-based integrated water vapor composite observations. It was found that satellite products are more consistent over ocean than land and often significantly underestimate precipitation rate over land compared to ground observations. Incorrect detection of precipitation from IR-based methods is prevalent over snow and ice surfaces where microwave estimates often show underestimation or missing data. Bias adjustment using ground observation is found very effective to improve satellite products, but it also raises concern regarding near-real-time applicability of satellite products for ARs. The analysis using individual case studies (6–8 January and 13–14 October 2009) and an ensemble of AR events suggests that further advancement in capturing orographic precipitation and precipitation over cold and frozen surfaces is needed to more reliably quantify AR precipitation from space.

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Ali Behrangi
,
Yang Song
,
George J. Huffman
, and
Robert F. Adler

Abstract

Satellites bring opportunities to quantify precipitation amount and distribution over the globe, critical to understanding how the Earth system works. The amount and spatial distribution of oceanic precipitation from the latest versions (V07 and the previous version) of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory instruments and selected members of the constellation of passive microwave sensors are quantified and compared with other products such as the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP V3.2); the Merged CloudSat, TRMM, and GPM (MCTG) climatology; and ERA5. Results show that GPM V07 products have a higher precipitation rate than the previous version, except for the radar-only product. Within ∼65°S–65°N, covered by all of the instruments, this increase ranges from about 9% for the combined radar–radiometer product to about 16% for radiometer-only products. While GPM precipitation products still show lower mean precipitation rate than MCTG (except over the tropics and Arctic Ocean), the V07 products (except radar-only) are generally more consistent with MCTG and GPCP V3.2 than V05. Over the tropics (25°S–25°N), passive microwave sounders show the highest precipitation rate among all of the precipitation products studied and the highest increase (∼19%) compared to their previous version. Precipitation products are least consistent in midlatitude oceans in the Southern Hemisphere, displaying the largest spread in mean precipitation rate and location of latitudinal peak precipitation. Precipitation products tend to show larger spread over regions with low and high values of sea surface temperature and total precipitable water. The analysis highlights major discrepancies among the products and areas for future research.

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Yixin Wen
,
Pierre Kirstetter
,
J. J. Gourley
,
Yang Hong
,
Ali Behrangi
, and
Zachary Flamig

Abstract

Snow is important to water resources and is of critical importance to society. Ground-weather-radar-based snowfall observations have been highly desirable for large-scale weather monitoring and water resources applications. This study conducts an evaluation of the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) quantitative estimates of snow rate using the Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) daily snow water equivalent (SWE) datasets. A detectability evaluation shows that MRMS is limited in detecting very light snow (daily snow accumulation <5 mm) because of the quality control module in MRMS filtering out weak signals (<5 dBZ). For daily snow accumulation greater than 10 mm, MRMS has good detectability. The quantitative comparisons reveal a bias of −77.37% between MRMS and SNOTEL. A majority of the underestimation bias occurs in relatively warm conditions with surface temperatures ranging from −10° to 0°C. A constant reflectivity–SWE intensity relationship does not capture the snow mass flux increase associated with denser snow particles at these relatively warm temperatures. There is no clear dependence of the bias on radar beam height. The findings in this study indicate that further improvement in radar snowfall products might occur by deriving appropriate reflectivity–SWE relationships considering the degree of riming and snowflake size.

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Ali Behrangi
,
Graeme Stephens
,
Robert F. Adler
,
George J. Huffman
,
Bjorn Lambrigtsen
, and
Matthew Lebsock

Abstract

This study contributes to the estimation of the global mean and zonal distribution of oceanic precipitation rate using complementary information from advanced precipitation measuring sensors and provides an independent reference to assess current precipitation products. Precipitation estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and CloudSat cloud profiling radar (CPR) were merged, as the two complementary sensors yield an unprecedented range of sensitivity to quantify rainfall from drizzle through the most intense rates. At higher latitudes, where TRMM PR does not exist, precipitation estimates from Aqua’s Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) complemented CloudSat CPR to capture intense precipitation rates. The high sensitivity of CPR allows estimation of snow rate, an important type of precipitation at high latitudes, not directly observed in current merged precipitation products. Using the merged precipitation estimate from the CloudSat, TRMM, and Aqua platforms (this estimate is abbreviated to MCTA), the authors’ estimate for 3-yr (2007–09) near-global (80°S–80°N) oceanic mean precipitation rate is ~2.94 mm day−1. This new estimate of mean global ocean precipitation is about 9% higher than that of the corresponding Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) value (2.68 mm day−1) and about 4% higher than that of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP; 2.82 mm day−1). Furthermore, MCTA suggests distinct differences in the zonal distribution of precipitation rate from that depicted in GPCP and CMAP, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.

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