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Water is fundamental to life on Earth, affecting the behavior of the weather, climate, energy and ecological systems as water moves through the Earth’s water cycle as vapor, liquid and ice. Precipitation, a key component of the water cycle, is difficult to measure since rain and snow vary greatly in both space and time.

Obtaining reliable ground-based measurements of rain and snow often presents a formidable challenge due to large gaps between reliable instruments over land and, particularly, over the oceans. From the vantage point of space, satellites provide more frequent and accurate observations and measurements of rain and snow around the globe. This allows key insights into when, where and how much it rains or snows globally, supplying vital information to unravel the complex roles water plays in Earth systems.

In order to gain further insights into the relationships between the components of the Earth’s water cycle, we need to know not only how much rain falls at the surface but also the distribution of rain, snow, and other forms of precipitation within the atmosphere above the surface. This allows us to characterize precipitation processes that are vital to understanding the links and the transfer of energy (heat) between the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Mission (GPM) provide advanced information on rain and snow characteristics and detailed three-dimensional knowledge of precipitation structure within the atmosphere, which help scientists study and understand Earth's water cycle, weather and climate.

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Not all raindrops are created equal. The size of falling raindrops depends on several factors, including where the cloud producing the drops is located on the globe and where the drops originate in the cloud. For the first time, scientists have three-dimensional snapshots of raindrops and snowflakes around the world from space, thanks to the joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. With the new global data on raindrop and snowflake sizes this mission provides, scientists can improve rainfall estimates from satellite data and in numerical...
OLYMPEX Successfully Grabs the Rains
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OLYMPEX Scientists in the Field
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Pacific NW Campaign to Measure Rain & Snow
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Media are invited to go behind the scenes of a comprehensive field campaign focused on yielding new insights into global precipitation at a special event on Nov. 11, 2015.  NASA's DC-8 deploys to Iceland on a mission to study Arctic polar winds. NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory will be featured as part of a special media event on Nov. 11, 2015 focused on the Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX), an Earth science campaign aimed at validating Global Precipitation Measurement. Credits: NASA Photo / Carla Thomas
Media are invited to go behind the scenes of a comprehensive field campaign focused on yielding new insights into global precipitation at a special event on Nov. 11, 2015. NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory will be featured as part of a special media event on Nov. 11, 2015 focused on the Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX), an Earth science campaign aimed at validating Global Precipitation Measurement. Credits: NASA Photo / Carla Thomas Held in collaboration with the University of Washington, NASA's Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX) is an Earth science campaign aimed at validating Global...

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