An update on the oceanic precipitation rate and its zonal distribution in light of advanced observations from space

Ali Behrangi, Graeme Stephens, Robert F. Adler, George J. Huffman, Bjorn Lambrigtsen, Matthew Lebsock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


This study contributes to the estimation of the global mean and zonal distribution of oceanic precipitation rate using complementary information from advanced precipitation measuring sensors and provides an independent reference to assess current precipitation products. Precipitation estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and CloudSat cloud profiling radar (CPR) were merged, as the two complementary sensors yield an unprecedented range of sensitivity to quantify rainfall from drizzle through the most intense rates. At higher latitudes, where TRMM PR does not exist, precipitation estimates from Aqua's Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) complemented CloudSat CPR to capture intense precipitation rates. The high sensitivity of CPR allows estimation of snow rate, an important type of precipitation at high latitudes, not directly observed in current merged precipitation products. Using the merged precipitation estimate from the CloudSat, TRMM, and Aqua platforms (this estimate is abbreviated to MCTA), the authors' estimate for 3-yr (2007-09) nearglobal (80°S-80°N) oceanic mean precipitation rate is ̃2.94 mm day-1. This new estimate of mean global ocean precipitation is about 9% higher than that of the corresponding Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) value (2.68 mm day-1) and about 4% higher than that of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP; 2.82 mm day-1). Furthermore, MCTA suggests distinct differences in the zonal distribution of precipitation rate from that depicted in GPCPand CMAP, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3957-3965
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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