Rainfall estimation from satellite passive microwave observations

K. Haselton
Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Potsdam

Satellite passive microwave observations from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSMI) are used to estimate rain rates based on the scattering index approach. This approach estimates rainfall intensity using the scattering of 85 GHz terrestrial radiation by ice particles at the top of precipitating clouds. SSMI rainfall retrievals provide space-filling, area-averaged rainfall estimates ('snapshots') up to four times daily. This is especially valuable when area-averaged rather than point measurements are desired, when studying diurnal rainfall variations and in regions where the distribution of ground stations is scarce. The use of SSMI rainfall estimates is demonstrated for two applications: 1) determination of the locations and relative intensities of orographic precipitation maxima and 2) as input to a simple water balance model for Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian/Peruvian Altiplano.

Kirk Haselton, Institut für Geowissenschaften, University of Potsdam, POB 601553, D-14415 Potsdam, Germany, Tel +49-331-977-2630, -2047, Fax -2087, kirk@geo.uni-potsdam.de, http://www.uni-potsdam.de/u/Geowissenschaft/index.htm