Evaluation of biases of satellite rainfall estimation algorithms over the continental United States

  • McCollum J
  • Krajewski W
  • Ferraro R
 et al. 
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A bias-adjusted radar rainfall product is created and used for evaluation of two satellite rainfall estimation algorithms. Three years of collocated rainfall estimates from radar, rain gauges, a microwave satellite algorithm, and a multispectral (visible through near-infrared) algorithm were collected over the continental United States from July 1998 through July 2001. The radar and gauge data are compared to determine the locations and times at which the rainfall occurrences estimated by these two sensors are in sufficient agreement for the data to be used for validation. This procedure serves as quality control for both sensors and determines the locations at which the radar has difficulty detecting rainfall and should not be used in a validation dataset. For the data remaining after quality control, the gauge data are used for multiplicative adjustment of the radar estimates to remove the radar bias with respect to the gauges. These bias-adjusted estimates are compared with the satellite rainfall estimates to observe the evolution of the satellite biases over the 3-yr period. The multispectral algorithm was under development throughout the 3-yr period, and improvement is evident. The microwave algorithm overestimates rainfall in the summer months, underestimates in the winter months, and has an east-to-west bias gradient, all of which are consistent with physical explanations and previous findings. The multispectral algorithm bias depends highly on diurnal sampling; there is much greater overestimation for the daytime overpasses. These results are applicable primarily to the eastern half of the United States, because few data in the western half remain after quality control.

Author-supplied keywords

  • precipitation
  • sensor microwave imager
  • validation
  • wsr-88d

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  • J R McCollum

  • W F Krajewski

  • R R Ferraro

  • M B Ba

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