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  • Author or Editor: Ardeshir M. Ebtehaj x
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Ardeshir M. Ebtehaj, Rafael L. Bras, and Efi Foufoula-Georgiou

Abstract

Using satellite measurements in microwave bands to retrieve precipitation over land requires proper discrimination of the weak rainfall signals from strong and highly variable background Earth surface emissions. Traditionally, land retrieval methods rely on a weak signal of rainfall scattering on high-frequency channels and make use of empirical thresholding and regression-based techniques. Because of the increased surface signal interference, retrievals over radiometrically complex land surfaces—snow-covered lands, deserts, and coastal areas—are particularly challenging for this class of retrieval techniques. This paper evaluates the results by the recently proposed Shrunken Locally Linear Embedding Algorithm for Retrieval of Precipitation (ShARP) using data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. The study focuses on a radiometrically complex region, partly covering the Tibetan highlands, Himalayas, and Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna River basins, which is unique in terms of its diverse land surface radiation regime and precipitation type, within the TRMM domain. Promising results are presented using ShARP over snow-covered land surfaces and in the vicinity of coastlines, in comparison with the land rainfall retrievals of the standard TRMM 2A12, version 7, product. The results show that ShARP can significantly reduce the rainfall overestimation due to the background snow contamination and markedly improve detection and retrieval of rainfall in the vicinity of coastlines. During the calendar year 2013, compared to TRMM 2A25, it is demonstrated that over the study domain the root-mean-square difference can be reduced up to 38% annually, while the improvement can reach up to 70% during the cold months of the year.

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Liao-Fan Lin, Ardeshir M. Ebtehaj, Alejandro N. Flores, Satish Bastola, and Rafael L. Bras

Abstract

This paper presents a framework that enables simultaneous assimilation of satellite precipitation and soil moisture observations into the coupled Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and Noah land surface model through variational approaches. The authors tested the framework by assimilating precipitation data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and soil moisture data from the Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite. The results show that assimilation of both TRMM and SMOS data can effectively improve the forecast skills of precipitation, top 10-cm soil moisture, and 2-m temperature and specific humidity. Within a 2-day time window, impacts of precipitation data assimilation on the forecasts remain relatively constant for forecast lead times greater than 6 h, while the influence of soil moisture data assimilation increases with lead time. The study also demonstrates that the forecast skill of precipitation, soil moisture, and near-surface temperature and humidity are further improved when both the TRMM and SMOS data are assimilated. In particular, the combined data assimilation reduces the prediction biases and root-mean-square errors, respectively, by 57% and 6% (for precipitation); 73% and 27% (for soil moisture); 17% and 9% (for 2-m temperature); and 33% and 11% (for 2-m specific humidity).

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Liao-Fan Lin, Ardeshir M. Ebtehaj, Rafael L. Bras, Alejandro N. Flores, and Jingfeng Wang

Abstract

The objective of this study is to develop a framework for dynamically downscaling spaceborne precipitation products using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var). Numerical experiments have been conducted to 1) understand the sensitivity of precipitation downscaling through point-scale precipitation data assimilation and 2) investigate the impact of seasonality and associated changes in precipitation-generating mechanisms on the quality of spatiotemporal downscaling of precipitation. The point-scale experiment suggests that assimilating precipitation can significantly affect the precipitation analysis, forecast, and downscaling. Because of occasional overestimation or underestimation of small-scale summertime precipitation extremes, the numerical experiments presented here demonstrate that the wintertime assimilation produces downscaled precipitation estimates that are in closer agreement with the reference National Centers for Environmental Prediction stage IV dataset than similar summertime experiments. This study concludes that the WRF 4D-Var system is able to effectively downscale a 6-h precipitation product with a spatial resolution of 20 km to hourly precipitation with a spatial resolution of less than 10 km in grid spacing—relevant to finescale hydrologic applications for the era of the Global Precipitation Measurement mission.

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Sagar K. Tamang, Ardeshir M. Ebtehaj, Andreas F. Prein, and Andrew J. Heymsfield

Abstract

Snowfall is one of the primary drivers of the global cryosphere and is declining in many regions of the world with widespread hydrological and ecological consequences. Previous studies have shown that the probability of snowfall occurrence is well described by wet-bulb temperatures below 1°C (1.1°C) over land (ocean). Using this relationship, wet-bulb temperatures from three reanalysis products as well as multisatellite and reanalysis precipitation data are analyzed from 1979 to 2017 to study changes in potential snowfall areas, snowfall-to-rainfall transition latitude, snowfall amount, and snowfall-to-precipitation ratio (SPR). Results are presented at hemispheric scales, as well as for three Köppen–Geiger climate classes and four major mountainous regions including the Alps, the western United States, High Mountain Asia (HMA), and the Andes. In all reanalysis products, while changes in the wet-bulb temperature over the Southern Hemisphere are mostly insignificant, significant positive trends are observed over the Northern Hemisphere (NH). Significant reductions are observed in annual-mean potential snowfall areas over NH land (ocean) by 0.52 (0.34) million km2 decade−1 due to an increase of 0.34°C (0.35°C) decade−1 in wet-bulb temperature. The fastest retreat in NH transition latitudes is observed over Europe and central Asia at 0.7° and 0.45° decade−1. Among mountainous regions, the largest decline in potential snowfall areas is observed over the Alps at 3.64% decade−1 followed by the western United States at 2.81% and HMA at 1.85% decade−1. This maximum decrease over the Alps is associated with significant reductions in annual snowfall of 20 mm decade−1 and SPR of 2% decade−1.

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