Content which is not specifically affiliated with GPM or TRMM, but which is about the Precipitation Measurement Missions in general.

Climate Change

Trends & Patterns

The distribution of the world’s rainfall is shifting as our climate changes. Wet areas may become wetter, dry areas drier, storms more intense, leading to more chaotic weather around the world. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2011), an increase in the average global temperature is very likely to lead to changes in precipitation and atmospheric moisture, including shifts towards more extreme precipitation during storms.

Precipitation Microphysics

Raindrop Shapes

TRMM’s Precipitation Radar (PR) is the first space-borne radar to observe rain droplet characteristics as they travel through the atmosphere. These measurements yield invaluable information on the intensity and distribution of the rain, the type of rain, the height of the storm and the altitude at which falling snow melts into rain. Estimates of the heat released into the atmosphere at different heights based on these measurements will improve models of global atmospheric circulation.

Storm Structure and Mesoscale Dynamics

3D image of Hurricane Bonnie showing eye wall and hot tower structures.

Seeing Through the Clouds

Satellites allow us to observe changes in the precipitation structure over the life cycle of a storm, even over ocean and regions where conventional data are sparse. In particular, we now have insights into the dynamics of a storm, such as how the eye of a hurricane stays stable as the storm moves across the Earth’s surface, and how tropical cyclones intensify through the presence of “hot tower” structures.


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