Climate-Scale Oceanic Rainfall Based on Passive Microwave Radiometry



In the microwave regime, the relatively low and stable emissivity of the sea surface serves as an excellent background over which brightly emitting hydrometeors can be distinguished. Space/time oceanic rainfall has been estimated from microwave radiometry using a simple radiative transfer model of an atmospheric rain column, a rain rate distribution to account for sampling deficiencies, and an empirical correction of the nonuniformly filled field of view of the microwave sensor. The microwave emission-based brightness temperature histogram (METH) technique has been applied to the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) to produce over 25 years of monthly oceanic rainfall. The METH technique is described and the retrieved parameters are assessed. The inter-satellite calibration of microwave and DMSP SSM/I sensors provided a climate-scale oceanic rainfall time series capable of examining climate trends and variabilities.


Microwave radiometry SSM/I Oceanic rainfall Rain frequency Mixed lognormal distribution Inter-satellite calibration Climate trend 



Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System


Beamfilling correction


Defense Meteorological Satellite Program


El Nino Southern Oscillation Modoki Index


El Nino Southern Oscillation


Empirical Orthogonal Function


Field of view


Global Atmospheric Research Experiment


GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment


General circulation model


Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite


Global Precipitation Climatology Project


Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Precipitation Index


Goddard Space Flight Center Satellite-based Sea surface Turbulent


International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set


Intertropical Convergence Zone


Microwave emission-based brightness temperature histogram


National Aeronautics and Space Administration


National Snow and Ice Data Center


Principal component


Polar Satellite Precipitation Data Center


Remote Sensing Systems


South Atlantic Convergence Zone


Southern Oscillation Index


South Pacific Convergence Zone


Special sensor microwave imager


Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder


Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Microwave Imager


Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission



Drs. T. Wilheit and A. T-C. Chang are codevelopers of this technique. Dr. Chang started the GPCP-PSPDC and was responsible for the initial development and operations. He passed away in May 2004. His leadership, perseverance, and mentoring would be sorely missed. Thanks are due to Drs. R. North, B. Kedem, D. Short, A. McConnell, R. Adler, and G. Huffman for their input throughout the course of development. Our work has been supported by NASA TRMM and NOAA Office of Global Programs during its various stages of development and processing. Drs. R. Adler, P. Arkin, A. Gruber, R. Kakar, S. Braun, and A. Hou are acknowledged for their support. DBS was supported by the Korea Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under Grant CATER 2012–2063.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, College of ScienceGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric ScienceYonsei UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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