Evaluation of precipitation estimates over CONUS derived from satellite, radar, and rain gauge data sets at daily to annual scales (2002-2012)

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Abstract

We use a suite of quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs) derived from satellite, radar, and surface observations to derive precipitation characteristics over the contiguous United States (CONUS) for the period 2002-2012. This comparison effort includes satellite multi-sensor data sets (bias-adjusted TMPA 3B42, near-real-time 3B42RT), radar estimates (NCEP Stage IV), and rain gauge observations. Remotely sensed precipitation data sets are compared with surface observations from the Global Historical Climatology Network-Daily (GHCN-D) and from the PRISM (Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model). The comparisons are performed at the annual, seasonal, and daily scales over the River Forecast Centers (RFCs) for CONUS. Annual average rain rates present a satisfying agreement with GHCN-D for all products over CONUS (±6%). However, differences at the RFC are more important in particular for near-real-time 3B42RT precipitation estimates (-33 to +49%). At annual and seasonal scales, the bias-adjusted 3B42 presented important improvement when compared to its near-real-time counterpart 3B42RT. However, large biases remained for 3B42 over the western USA for higher average accumulation (≥ 5 mm day<sup>-1</sup>) with respect to GHCN-D surface observations. At the daily scale, 3B42RT performed poorly in capturing extreme daily precipitation (> 4 in. day<sup>-1</sup>) over the Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, the conditional analysis and a contingency analysis conducted illustrated the challenge in retrieving extreme precipitation from remote sensing estimates.

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Prat, O. P., & Nelson, B. R. (2015). Evaluation of precipitation estimates over CONUS derived from satellite, radar, and rain gauge data sets at daily to annual scales (2002-2012). Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 19(4), 2037–2056. https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-2037-2015

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