The Status of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) after Two Years in Orbit

C. Kummerow, J. Simpson, O. Thiele, W. Barnes, A. T. C. Chang, E. Stocker, R. F. Adler, and A. Hou

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

R. Kakar

NASA Headquarters, Washington, District of Columbia

F. Wentz and P. Ashcroft

Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, California

T. Kozu

Shimane University, Shimane, Japan

Y. Hong

The Aerospace Corporation, Los Angeles, California

K. Okamoto, T. Iguchi, and H. Kuroiwa

Communications Research Laboratory, Tokyo, Japan

E. Im and Z. Haddad

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

G. Huffman

Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland

B. Ferrier and W. S. Olson

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland

E. Zipser

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

E. A. Smith

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

T. T. Wilheit and G. North

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

T. Krishnamurti

The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

K. Nakamura

Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan


The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was launched on 27 November 1997, and data from all the instruments first became available approximately 30 days after the launch. Since then, much progress has been made in the calibration of the sensors, the improvement of the rainfall algorithms, and applications of these results to areas such as data assimilation and model initialization. The TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) calibration has been corrected and verified to account for a small source of radiation leaking into the TMI receiver. The precipitation radar calibration has been adjusted upward slightly (by 0.6 dBZ) to match better the ground reference targets; the visible and infrared sensor calibration remains largely unchanged. Two versions of the TRMM rainfall algorithms are discussed. The at-launch (version 4) algorithms showed differences of 40% when averaged over the global Tropics over 30-day periods. The improvements to the rainfall algorithms that were undertaken after launch are presented, and intercomparisons of these products (version 5) show agreement improving to 24% for global tropical monthly averages. The ground-based radar rainfall product generation is discussed. Quality-control issues have delayed the routine production of these products until the summer of 2000, but comparisons of TRMM products with early versions of the ground validation products as well as with rain gauge network data suggest that uncertainties among the TRMM algorithms are of approximately the same magnitude as differences between TRMM products and ground-based rainfall estimates. The TRMM field experiment program is discussed to describe active areas of measurements and plans to use these data for further algorithm improvements. In addition to the many papers in this special issue, results coming from the analysis of TRMM products to study the diurnal cycle, the climatological description of the vertical profile of precipitation, storm types, and the distribution of shallow convection, as well as advances in data assimilation of moisture and model forecast improvements using TRMM data, are discussed in a companion TRMM special issue in the Journal of Climate (1 December 2000, Vol. 13, No. 23).