A space-filling algorithm to extrapolate narrow-swath instantaneous TRMM microwave rain-rate estimates using thermal IR imagery

Ana P. Barros, Kun Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A space-filling algorithm (SFA) based on 2D spectral estimation techniques was developed to extrapolate the spatial domain of the narrow-swath near-instantaneous rain-rate estimates from Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) using thermal infrared imagery (Meteosat-5) without making use of calibration or statistical fitting. A comparison against rain gauge observations and the original PR 2A25 and TMI 2A12 estimates in the central Himalayas during the monsoon season (June-September) over a 3-yr period of 1999-2001 was conducted to assess the algorithm's performance. Evaluation over the continental United States was conducted against the NCEP stage IV combined radar and gauge analysis for selected events. Overall, the extrapolated PR and TMI rainfall fields derived using SFA exhibit skill comparable to the original TRMM estimates. The results indicate that probability of detection and threat scores of the reconstructed products are significantly better than the original PR data at high-elevation stations (>2000 m) on mountain ridges, and specifically for rainfall rates exceeding 2-5 mm h-1 and for afternoon convection. For low-elevation stations located in steep narrow valleys, the performance varies from year to year and deteriorates strongly for light rainfall (false alarm rates significantly increase). A preliminary comparison with other satellite products (e.g., 3B42, a TRMM-adjusted merged infrared-based rainfall product) suggests that integrating this algorithm in currently existing operational multisensor algorithms has the potential to improve significantly spatial resolution, texture, and detection of rainfall, especially in mountainous regions, which present some of the greatest challenges in precipitation retrieval from satellites over land, and for hydrological operations during extreme events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1901-1920
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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