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Laurie Trenary, Timothy DelSole, Brian Doty, and Michael K. Tippett
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Laurie Trenary, Timothy DelSole, Michael K. Tippett, and Brian Doty
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Benjamin A. Cash, Xavier Rodó, James L. Kinter III, Michael J. Fennessy, and Brian Doty

Abstract

The differences in boreal summer (June–August) monthly-mean rainfall estimates over the Indian Ocean region in five research-quality products are examined for the period 1979–2003. Two products derived from the merged satellite and surface observations are considered: the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) and the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP). In addition, three products derived solely from rain gauge observations are considered: the Chen et al. product; the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) product; and a new, objectively analyzed product based on the Climate Anomaly Monitoring System (CAMS) dataset.

Significant discrepancies have been found between the different products across the entire Indian Ocean region, with the greatest disagreement over Burma and neighboring Bangladesh. These differences appear to be primarily due to the absence of reported rain gauge data for Burma and differences in the algorithms used to merge the satellite microwave emission and scattering data in coastal regions. Representations of rainfall across much of the eastern Indian Ocean region would likely be improved by the identification and inclusion of reporting stations from Burma and a refinement of the techniques used for merging microwave data. The differences among the five products are sufficient to affect both quantitative and qualitative conclusions drawn about rainfall, particularly over Bangladesh and Burma. Consequently, the results of precipitation studies in this region will depend, in some cases, on the choice of the data product, including such basic questions as to whether a given summer was wet or dry. Of particular note is that the apparent relationship between rainfall and ENSO can depend on the choice of the data product.

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