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Daniel Vila, Ralph Ferraro, and Hilawe Semunegus

Abstract

Global monthly rainfall estimates have been produced from more than 20 years of measurements from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program series of Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I). This is the longest passive microwave dataset available to analyze the seasonal, annual, and interannual rainfall variability on a global scale. The primary algorithm used in this study is an 85-GHz scattering-based algorithm over land, while a combined 85-GHz scattering and 19/37-GHz emission is used over ocean. The land portion of this algorithm is one of the components of the blended Global Precipitation Climatology Project rainfall climatology. Because previous SSM/I processing was performed in real time, only a basic quality control (QC) procedure had been employed to avoid unrealistic values in the input data. A more sophisticated, statistical-based QC procedure on the daily data grids (antenna temperature) was developed to remove unrealistic values not detected in the original database and was employed to reprocess the rainfall product using the current version of the algorithm for the period 1992–2007. Discrepancies associated with the SSM/I-derived monthly rainfall products are characterized through comparisons with various gauge-based and other satellite-derived rainfall estimates. A substantial reduction in biases was observed as a result of this QC scheme. This will yield vastly improved global rainfall datasets.

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Daniel Vila, Cecilia Hernandez, Ralph Ferraro, and Hilawe Semunegus

Abstract

Global monthly rainfall estimates and other hydrological products have been produced from 1987 to the present using measurements from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) series of the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I). The aim of this paper is twofold: to present the recent efforts to improve the quality control (QC) of historical antenna temperature of the SSM/I sensor (1987–2008) and how this improvement impacts the different hydrological products that are generated at NOAA/National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). Beginning in 2005, the DMSP Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMI/S) has been successfully operating on the F-16, F-17, and F-18 satellites. The second objective of this paper is focused on the application of SSMI/S channels to evaluate the performance of several hydrological products using the heritage of existing SSM/I algorithms and to develop an improved strategy to extend the SSM/I time series into the SSMI/S era, starting with data in 2009 for F-17. The continuity of hydrological products from SSM/I to SSMI/S has shown to be a valuable contribution for the precipitation and climate monitoring community but several sensor issues must be accounted for to meet this objective.

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Kenneth R. Knapp, Alisa H. Young, Hilawe Semunegus, Anand K. Inamdar, and William Hankins

Abstract

The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) began collecting data in the 1980s to help understand the distribution of clouds. Since then, it has provided important information on clouds in time and space and their radiative characteristics. However, it was apparent from some long-term time series of the data that there are some latent artifacts related to the changing satellite coverage over the more than 30 years of the record. Changes in satellite coverage effectively create secular changes in the time series of view zenith angle (VZA) for a given location. There is an inconsistency in the current ISCCP cloud detection algorithm related to VZA: two satellites viewing the same location from different VZAs can produce vastly different estimates of cloud amount. Research is presented that shows that a simple change to the cloud detection algorithm can vastly increase the consistency. This is accomplished by making the cloud–no cloud threshold VZA dependent. The resulting cloud amounts are more consistent between different satellites and the distributions are shown to be more spatially homogenous. Likewise, the more consistent spatial data lead to more consistent temporal statistics.

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Hilawe Semunegus, Wesley Berg, John J. Bates, Kenneth R. Knapp, and Christian Kummerow

Abstract

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center has served as the archive of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) data from the F-8, F-10, F-11, F-13, F-14, and F-15 platforms covering the period from July 1987 to the present. Passive microwave satellite measurements from SSM/I have been used to generate climate products in support of national and international programs. The SSM/I temperature data record (TDR) and sensor data record (SDR) datasets have been reprocessed and stored as network Common Data Form (netCDF) 3-hourly files. In addition to reformatting the data, a normalized anomaly (z score) for each footprint temperature value was calculated by subtracting each radiance value with the corresponding monthly 1° grid climatological mean and dividing it by the associated climatological standard deviation. Threshold checks were also used to detect radiance, temporal, and geolocation values that were outside the expected ranges. The application of z scores and threshold parameters in the form of embedded quality flags has improved the fidelity of the SSM/I TDR/SDR period of record for climatological applications. This effort has helped to preserve and increase the data maturity level of the longest satellite passive microwave period of record while completing a key first step before developing a homogenized and intercalibrated SSM/I climate data record in the near future.

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