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Mohammed Ombadi, Phu Nguyen, Soroosh Sorooshian, and Kuo-lin Hsu


The Nile River basin is one of the global hotspots vulnerable to climate change impacts because of a fast-growing population and geopolitical tensions. Previous studies demonstrated that general circulation models (GCMs) frequently show disagreement in the sign of change in annual precipitation projections. Here, we first evaluate the performance of 20 GCMs from phase six of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) benchmarked against a high-spatial-resolution precipitation dataset dating back to 1983 from Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks–Climate Data Record (PERSIANN-CDR). Next, a Bayesian model averaging (BMA) approach is adopted to derive probability distributions of precipitation projections in the Nile basin. Retrospective analysis reveals that most GCMs exhibit considerable (up to 64% of mean annual precipitation) and spatially heterogenous bias in simulating annual precipitation. Moreover, it is shown that all GCMs underestimate interannual variability; thus, the ensemble range is underdispersive and is a poor indicator of uncertainty. The projected changes from the BMA model show that the value and sign of change vary considerably across the Nile basin. Specifically, it is found that projected changes in the two headwaters basins, namely, the Blue Nile and Upper White Nile, are 0.03% and −1.65%, respectively; both are statistically insignificant at α = 0.05. The uncertainty range estimated from the BMA model shows that the probability of a precipitation decrease is much higher in the Upper White Nile basin whereas projected change in the Blue Nile is highly uncertain both in magnitude and sign of change.

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Hoang Tran, Phu Nguyen, Mohammed Ombadi, Kuolin Hsu, Soroosh Sorooshian, and Konstantinos Andreadis


Flood mapping from satellites provides large-scale observations of flood events, but cloud obstruction in satellite optical sensors limits its practical usability. In this study, we implemented the Variational Interpolation (VI) algorithm to remove clouds from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Snow-Covered Area (SCA) products. The VI algorithm estimated states of cloud-hindered pixels by constructing three-dimensional space–time surfaces based on assumptions of snow persistence. The resulting cloud-free flood maps, while maintaining the temporal resolution of the original MODIS product, showed an improvement of nearly 70% in average probability of detection (POD) (from 0.29 to 0.49) when validated with flood maps derived from Landsat-8 imagery. The second part of this study utilized the cloud-free flood maps for calibration of a hydrologic model to improve simulation of flood inundation maps. The results demonstrated the utility of the cloud-free maps, as simulated inundation maps had average POD, false alarm ratio (FAR), and Hanssen–Kuipers (HK) skill score of 0.87, 0.49, and 0.84, respectively, compared to POD, FAR, and HK of 0.70, 0.61, and 0.67 when original maps were used for calibration.

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Phu Nguyen, Eric J. Shearer, Mohammed Ombadi, Vesta Afzali Gorooh, Kuolin Hsu, Soroosh Sorooshian, William S. Logan, and Marty Ralph


Precipitation measurements with high spatiotemporal resolution are a vital input for hydrometeorological and water resources studies; decision-making in disaster management; and weather, climate, and hydrological forecasting. Moreover, real-time precipitation estimation with high precision is pivotal for the monitoring and managing of catastrophic hydroclimate disasters such as flash floods, which frequently transpire after extreme rainfall. While algorithms that exclusively use satellite infrared data as input are attractive owing to their rich spatiotemporal resolution and near-instantaneous availability, their sole reliance on cloud-top brightness temperature (T b) readings causes underestimates in wet regions and overestimates in dry regions—this is especially evident over the western contiguous United States (CONUS). We introduce an algorithm, the Precipitation Estimations from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN) Dynamic Infrared–Rain rate model (PDIR), which utilizes climatological data to construct a dynamic (i.e., laterally shifting) T b–rain rate relationship that has several notable advantages over other quantitative precipitation-estimation algorithms and noteworthy skill over the western CONUS. Validation of PDIR over the western CONUS shows a promising degree of skill, notably at the annual scale, where it performs well in comparison to other satellite-based products. Analysis of two extreme landfalling atmospheric rivers show that solely IR-based PDIR performs reasonably well compared to other IR- and PMW-based satellite rainfall products, marking its potential to be effective in real-time monitoring of extreme storms. This research suggests that IR-based algorithms that contain the spatiotemporal richness and near-instantaneous availability needed for rapid natural hazards response may soon contain the skill needed for hydrologic and water resource applications.

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Phu Nguyen, Mohammed Ombadi, Vesta Afzali Gorooh, Eric J. Shearer, Mojtaba Sadeghi, Soroosh Sorooshian, Kuolin Hsu, David Bolvin, and Martin F. Ralph


This study presents the Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks–Dynamic Infrared Rain Rate (PDIR-Now) near-real-time precipitation dataset. This dataset provides hourly, quasi-global, infrared-based precipitation estimates at 0.04° × 0.04° spatial resolution with a short latency (15–60 min). It is intended to supersede the PERSIANN–Cloud Classification System (PERSIANN-CCS) dataset previously produced as the near-real-time product of the PERSIANN family. We first provide a brief description of the algorithm’s fundamentals and the input data used for deriving precipitation estimates. Second, we provide an extensive evaluation of the PDIR-Now dataset over annual, monthly, daily, and subdaily scales. Last, the article presents information on the dissemination of the dataset through the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing (CHRS) web-based interfaces. The evaluation, conducted over the period 2017–18, demonstrates the utility of PDIR-Now and its improvement over PERSIANN-CCS at all temporal scales. Specifically, PDIR-Now improves the estimation of rain/no-rain days as demonstrated by a critical success index (CSI) of 0.53 compared to 0.47 of PERSIANN-CCS. In addition, PDIR-Now improves the estimation of seasonal and diurnal cycles of precipitation as well as regional precipitation patterns erroneously estimated by PERSIANN-CCS. Finally, an evaluation is carried out to examine the performance of PDIR-Now in capturing two extreme events, Hurricane Harvey and a cluster of summer thunderstorms that occurred over the Netherlands, where it is shown that PDIR-Now adequately represents spatial precipitation patterns as well as subdaily precipitation rates with a correlation coefficient (CORR) of 0.64 for Hurricane Harvey and 0.76 for the Netherlands thunderstorms.

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