Climate Dynamics

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 837–855 | Cite as

Potential of microwave observations for the evaluation of rainfall and convection in a regional climate model in the frame of HyMeX and MED-CORDEX

  • Jean-François RysmanEmail author
  • Ségolène Berthou
  • Chantal Claud
  • Philippe Drobinski
  • Jean-Pierre Chaboureau
  • Julien Delanoë


This study evaluates the potential of spaceborne passive microwave observations for assessing decadal simulations of precipitation from a regional climate model through a model-to-satellite approach. A simulation from the Weather and Research Forecasting model is evaluated against 2002–2012 observations from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit and the Microwave Humidity Sounder over the Mediterranean region using the radiative transfer code Radiative Transfer for Tiros Operational Vertical Sounder. It is first shown that simulated and observed brightness temperatures are consistently correlated for both water vapour and window channels. Yet, although the average simulated and observed brightness temperatures are similar, the range of brightness temperatures is larger in the observations. The difference is presumably due to the too low content of frozen particles in the simulation. To assess this hypothesis, density and altitude of simulated frozen hydrometeors are compared with observations from an airborne cloud radar. Results show that simulated frozen hydrometeors are found at lower median altitude than observed frozen hydrometeors, with an average content at least 5 times inferior. Spatial distributions of observed and simulated precipitation match reasonably well. However, when using simulated brightness temperatures to diagnose rainfall, the simulation performs very poorly. These results highlight the need of providing more realistic frozen hydrometeors content, which will increase the interest of using passive microwave observations for the long-term evaluation of regional models. In particular, significant improvements are expected from the archiving of convective fluxes of precipitating hydrometeors in future regional model simulation programs.


Convection HyMeX MED-CORDEX Passive microwave observations Precipitation Radar observations Radiative transfer model Regional model 



We would like to acknowledge Karine Béranger and Aurélien Podglajen for their insightful comments. We would also like to acknowledge the three referees for their careful proofreading of this paper and their suggestions that greatly improved this study. This work is a contribution to the HyMeX program (Hydrological cycle in The Mediterranean eXperiment) through INSU-MISTRALS support and the Med-CORDEX program (COordinated Regional climate Downscaling EXperiment Mediterranean region). This study was sponsored by the Direction Générale de l’Armement (PRECIP-CLOUD project), Earth2Observe project (funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme under grant agreement number 603608), the ANR-14-CE01-0014 MUSIC project, the ANR-12-SENV-001 REMEMBER project, the ANR-11-BS56-0005 IODA-MED project and the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES). It was also supported by the IPSL group for regional climate and environmental studies, with granted access to the HPC resources of IDRIS (under allocation i2011010227). The authors acknowledge the HyMeX database teams (ESPRI/IPSL and SEDOO/Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées), the French Mixed Service Unit project ICARE/climserv and the MED-CORDEX database team at ENEA for their help in accessing the data (AMSU-B and MHS data, RASTA data and the IPSL WRF and MORCE regional climate simulations). It is also a contribution to the cross-cutting activity on sub-daily precipitation of the GEWEX program of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) (GEWEX Hydroclimate Panel).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-François Rysman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ségolène Berthou
    • 1
  • Chantal Claud
    • 1
  • Philippe Drobinski
    • 1
  • Jean-Pierre Chaboureau
    • 2
  • Julien Delanoë
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Métérology Dynamique, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace CNRS, École PolytechniqueUniversité Paris-SaclayPalaiseauFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Aérologie, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UPSToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire Atmosphères Milieux Observations Spatiales, IPSL, UVSQ, CNRS, UPMCPalaiseauFrance

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