A Method for Combined Passive-Active Microwave Retrievals of Cloud and Precipitation Profiles

William S. Olson

Caelum Research Corporation, Silver Spring, Maryland

Christian D. Kummerow and Gerald M. Heymsfield

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Louis Giglio

Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland


Three-dimensional tropical squall-line simulations from the Goddard cumulus ensemble (GCE) model are used as input to radiative computations of upwelling microwave brightness temperatures and radar reflectivities at selected microwave sensor frequencies. These cloud/radiative calculations form the basis of a physical cloud/precipitation profile retrieval method that yields estimates of the expected values of the hydrometeor water contents. Application of the retrieval method to simulated nadir-view observations of the aircraft-borne Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) and NASA ER-2 Doppler radar (EDOP) produce random errors of 23%, 19%, and 53% in instantaneous estimates of integrated precipitating liquid, integrated precipitating ice, and surface rain rate, respectively.

On 5 October 1993, during the Convection and Atmospheric Moisture Experiment (CAMEX), the AMPR and EDOP were used to observe convective systems in the vicinity of the Florida peninsula. Although the AMPR data alone could be used to retrieve cloud and precipitation vertical profiles over the ocean, retrievals of high-resolution vertical precipitation structure and profile information over land required the combination of AMPR and EDOP observations.

No validation data are available for this study; however, the retrieved precipitation distributions from the convective systems are compatible with limited radar climatologies of such systems, as well as being radiometrically consistent with both the AMPR and EDOP observations. In the future, the retrieval method will be adapted to the passive and active microwave measurements from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite sensors.