How Well Can We Estimate Error Variance of Satellite Precipitation Data Around the World?

Friday, 19 December 2014: 10:50 AM
Abebe S Gebregiorgis and Faisal Hossain, University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States
The traditional approach to measuring precipitation by placing a probe on the ground will likely never be adequate or affordable in most parts of the world. Fortunately, satellites today provide a continuous global bird's-eye view (above ground) at any given location. However, the usefulness of such precipitation products for hydrological applications depends on their error characteristics. Thus, providing error information associated with existing satellite precipitation estimates is crucial to advancing applications in hydrologic modeling. In this study, we present a method of estimating satellite precipitation error variance using regression model for three satellite precipitation products (3B42RT, CMORPH, and PERSIANN-CCS) using easily available geophysical features and satellite precipitation rate. The goal of this work is to explore how well the method works around the world in diverse geophysical settings. Topography, climate, and seasons are considered as the governing factors to segregate the satellite precipitation uncertainty and fit a nonlinear regression equation as function of satellite precipitation rate. The error variance models were tested on USA, Asia, Middle East, and Mediterranean region. Rain-gauge based precipitation product was used to validate the errors variance of satellite precipitation products. Our study attests that transferability of model estimators (which help to estimate the error variance) from one region to another is practically possible by leveraging the similarity in geophysical features. Therefore, the quantitative picture of satellite precipitation error over ungauged regions can be discerned even in the absence of ground truth data.