Over-Ocean Rainfall Retrieval from Multisensor Data of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. Part II: Algorithm Implementation

Peter Bauer

German Aerospace Center, Cologne, Germany

Paul Amayenc

CETP-IPSL, Velizy, France

Christian D. Kummerow

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Eric A. Smith

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama


The objective of this paper is to establish a computationally efficient algorithm making use of the combination of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) and precipitation radar (PR) observations. To set up the TMI algorithm, the retrieval databases developed in Part I served as input for different inversion techniques: multistage regressions and neural networks as well as Bayesian estimators. It was found that both Bayesian and neural network techniques performed equally well against PR estimates if all TMI channels were used. However, not using the 85.5-GHz channels produced consistently better results. This confirms the conclusions from Part I. Generally, regressions performed worse; thus they seem less suited for general application due to the insufficient representation of the nonlinearities of the TB–rain rate relation. It is concluded that the databases represent the most sensitive part of rainfall algorithm development.

Sensor combination was carried out by gridding PR estimates of rain liquid water content to 27 km × 44 km horizontal resolution at the center of gravity of the TMI 10.65-GHz channel weighting function. A liquid water dependent database collects common samples over the narrow swath covered by both TMI and PR. Average calibration functions are calculated, dynamically updated along the satellite track, and applied to the full TMI swath. The behavior of the calibration function was relatively stable. The TMI estimates showed a slight underestimation of rainfall at low rain liquid water contents (<0.1 g m−3) as well as at very high rainfall intensities (>0.8 g m−3) and excellent agreement in between. The biases were found to not depend on beam filling with a strong correlation to rain liquid water for stratiform clouds that may point to melting layer effects.

The remaining standard deviations between instantaneous TMI and PR estimates after calibration may be treated as a total retrieval error, assuming the PR estimates are unbiased. The error characteristics showed a rather constant absolute error of <0.05 g m−3 for rain liquid water contents <0.1 g m−3. Above, the error increases to 0.6 g m−3 for amounts up to 1 g m−3. In terms of relative errors, this corresponds to a sharp decrease from >100% to 35% between 0.05 and 0.5 g m−3. The database ambiguity, that is, the standard deviation of near-surface rain liquid water contents with the same radiometric signature, provides a means to estimate the contribution from the simulations to this error. In the range where brightness temperatures respond most sensitively to rainwater contents, almost the entire error originates from the ambiguity of signatures. At very low and very high rain rates (<0.05 and >0.7 g m−3) at least half of the total error is explained by the inversion process.