Adjusting satellite precipitation data to facilitate hydrologic modeling

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Journal of Hydrometeorology


Significant concern has been expressed regarding the ability of satellite-based precipitation products such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) 3B42 products (version 6) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center's (CPC) morphing technique (CMORPH) to accurately capture rainfall values over land. Problems exist in terms of bias, false-alarm rate (FAR), and probability of detection (POD), which vary greatly worldwide and over the conterminous United States (CONUS). This paper directly addresses these concerns by developing a methodology that adjusts existing TMPA products utilizing ground-based precipitation data. The approach is not a simple bias adjustment but a three-step process that transforms a satellite precipitation product. Ground-based precipitation is used to develop a filter eliminating FAR in the authors' adjusted product. The probability distribution function (PDF) of the satellite-based product is adjusted to the PDF of the ground-based product, minimizing bias. Failure of precipitation detection (POD) is addressed by utilizing a ground-based product during these periods in their adjusted product. This methodology has been successfully applied in the hydrological modeling of the San Pedro basin in Arizona for a 3-yr time series, yielding excellent streamflow simulations at a daily time scale. The approach can be applied to any satellite precipitation product (i.e., TRMM 3B42 version 7) and will provide a useful approach to quantifying precipitation in regions with limited ground-based precipitation monitoring. © 2010 American Meteorological Society.

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