Observing and Understanding the Variability of Water in Weather and Climate
17TH Conference on Hydrology


Monitoring Global Precipitation Using Satellite Observations: Status and Future

Robert F. Adler, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and G. J. Huffman, S. Curtis, D. Bolvin, and E. Nelkin

The current status of monitoring global precipitation amounts and patterns is described using data sets from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) and from recent research satellites, especially the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM).

The GPCP monthly (and pentad) data set is a 23 year, globally complete precipitation analysis that is used to explore global and regional variations and trends. The data set is a blend of data mainly from low-orbit microwave satellites and geosynchronous infrared satellites, with additional input from satellite sounder data, Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) data and raingauges . The monthly GPCP data set shows no significant global trend in precipitation over the twenty years, unlike the positive trend in global surface temperatures over the past century. Regional trends are also analyzed. A trend pattern that is a combination of both El Nino and La Nina precipitation features is evident in the 23-year data set. This pattern is related to an increase with time in the number of combined months of El Nino and La Nina during the 23 year period. This apparent trend may be a short-term variation, but also might be related to the increase with time of extreme precipitation events reported elsewhere. Patterns of precipitation variation related to ENSO and other phenomena are shown with clear signals extending from the Tropics into middle and high latitudes of both hemispheres. Also shown as an example of higher time resolution data is the GPCP daily analysis, which is available for the last six years.

A second focus of the talk is on TRMM precipitation data and how these newer data sets incorporating information from the first space-borne meteorological radar compare with the established GPCP data sets.

A TRMM-based 3-hr analyses that use TRMM observations to calibrate polar-orbit microwave observations from SSM/I (and other satellites) and geosynchronous IR observations and merges the various calibrated observations into a final, 3-hr resolution map is described. This TRMM standard product will be available for the entire TRMM period (January 1998-present) in 2003. A real-time version of this merged product is being produced and is available at 0.25? latitude-longitude resolution over the latitude range from 50?N-50?S. Examples will be shown, including its use in monitoring flood conditions and in relating weather-scale patterns to climate-scale patterns.

Plans to incorporate the TRMM data and 3-hourly analysis into the GPCP products are outlined. The outcome in the near future should be an improved global analysis and climatology on monthly scales for the 23 year period and finer time scale analyses for more recent periods, including real-time 3-hourly (or finer) analyses over the globe. Further in the future a Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission is being planned to follow TRMM and extend and improve the monitoring of global precipitation from space.

Joint Session 3, Instrumentation and Remote Sensing to Observe Water in all its Phases (Joint with the Symposium on Observing and Understanding the Variability of Water in Weather and Climate and the 17th Conference on Hydrology)
Tuesday, 11 February 2003, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM

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