Status of TRMM Monthly Estimates of Tropical Precipitation

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  • a Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • b Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • c Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland
  • d Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, Baltimore, Maryland
  • e University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Three years of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) monthly estimates of tropical surface rainfall are analyzed to document and understand the differences among the TRMM-based estimates and how these differences relate to the pre-TRMM estimates and current operational analyses. Variation among the TRMM estimates is shown to be considerably smaller than among a pre-TRMM collection of passive microwave-based products. Use of both passive and active microwave techniques in TRMM should lead to increased confidence in converged estimates.

Current TRMM estimates are shown to have a range of about 20% for the tropical ocean as a whole, with variations in heavily raining ocean areas of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) having differences over 30%. In midlatitude ocean areas the differences are smaller. Over land there is a distinct difference between the Tropics and midlatitude with a reversal between some of the products as to which tends to be relatively high or low. Comparisons of TRMM estimates with ocean atoll and land rain gauge information point to products that might have significant regional biases. The bias of the radar-based product is significantly low compared with atoll rain gauge data, while the passive microwave product is significantly high compared to rain gauge data in the deep Tropics.

The evolution of rainfall patterns during the recent change from intense El Niño to a long period of La Niña and then a gradual return to near neutral conditions is described using TRMM. The time history of integrated rainfall over the tropical oceans (and land) during this period differs among the passive and active microwave TRMM estimates.

Abstract

Three years of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) monthly estimates of tropical surface rainfall are analyzed to document and understand the differences among the TRMM-based estimates and how these differences relate to the pre-TRMM estimates and current operational analyses. Variation among the TRMM estimates is shown to be considerably smaller than among a pre-TRMM collection of passive microwave-based products. Use of both passive and active microwave techniques in TRMM should lead to increased confidence in converged estimates.

Current TRMM estimates are shown to have a range of about 20% for the tropical ocean as a whole, with variations in heavily raining ocean areas of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) having differences over 30%. In midlatitude ocean areas the differences are smaller. Over land there is a distinct difference between the Tropics and midlatitude with a reversal between some of the products as to which tends to be relatively high or low. Comparisons of TRMM estimates with ocean atoll and land rain gauge information point to products that might have significant regional biases. The bias of the radar-based product is significantly low compared with atoll rain gauge data, while the passive microwave product is significantly high compared to rain gauge data in the deep Tropics.

The evolution of rainfall patterns during the recent change from intense El Niño to a long period of La Niña and then a gradual return to near neutral conditions is described using TRMM. The time history of integrated rainfall over the tropical oceans (and land) during this period differs among the passive and active microwave TRMM estimates.

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