A Ground Validation Network for the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission

Mathew R. Schwaller
K. Robert Morris
Document Description

A prototype Validation Network (VN) is currently operating as part of the Ground Validation System for NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. The VN supports precipitation retrieval algorithm development in the GPM prelaunch era. Postlaunch, the VN will be used to validate GPM spacecraft instrument measurements and retrieved precipitation data products.

The period of record for the VN prototype starts on 8 August 2006 and runs to the present day. The VN database includes spacecraft data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and coincident ground radar (GR) data from operational meteorological networks in the United States, Australia, Korea, and the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Satellite and ground radar data products are collected whenever the PR satellite track crosses within 200 km of a VN ground radar, and these data are stored permanently in the VN database. VN products are generated from coincident PR and GR observations when a significant rain event occurs.

The VN algorithm matches PR and GR radar data (including retrieved precipitation data in the case of the PR) by calculating averages of PR reflectivity (both raw and attenuation corrected) and rain rate, and GR reflectivity at the geometric intersection of the PR rays with the individual GR elevation sweeps. The algorithm thus averages the minimum PR and GR sample volumes needed to “matchup” the spatially coincident PR and GR data types. The result of this technique is a set of vertical profiles for a given rainfall event, with coincident PR and GR samples matched at specified heights throughout the profile.

VN data can be used to validate satellite measurements and to track ground radar calibration over time. A comparison of matched TRMM PR and GR radar reflectivity factor data found a remarkably small difference between the PR and GR radar reflectivity factor averaged over this period of record in stratiform and convective rain cases when samples were taken from high in the atmosphere. A significant difference in PR and GR reflectivity was found in convective cases, particularly in convective samples from the lower part of the atmosphere. In this case, the mean difference between PR and corrected GR reflectivity was −1.88 dBZ. The PR–GR bias was found to increase with the amount of PR attenuation correction applied, with the PR–GR bias reaching −3.07 dBZ in cases where the attenuation correction applied is >6 dBZ. Additional analysis indicated that the version 6 TRMM PR retrieval algorithm underestimates rainfall in case of convective rain in the lower part of the atmosphere by 30%–40%.