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The Global Satellite Precipitation Constellation: Current Status and Future Requirements

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BAMS coverESSIC Research Scientist Chris Kidd and ESSIC Task Sponsor and former UMD Professor George Huffman collaborated on a new article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) that outlines key issues and future requirements for the mapping of global precipitation from satellite sensors.

Over the last 20 years, a collection of satellites carrying passive microwave (PMW) radiometers has grown to form a constellation of 10-12 sensors. Over the same period, science and user communities have become increasingly dependent on the precipitation products provided by those sensors. Many of these satellites are beyond their operational design lifetime, but continue to operate through the cooperation of the responsible agencies. 

The Group on Earth Observations and the Coordinating Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS), among other groups, have raised the issue of how a robust, future precipitation constellation should be constructed. These issues are critical in determining the direction of future constellation requirements while preserving the continuity of the existing constellation necessary for long-term climate-scale studies.

The issues can be summarized as providing:

  1. Sufficiently fine spatial resolutions to capture precipitation-scale systems and reduce the beam-filling effects of the observations
  2. A wide channel diversity for each sensor to cover the range of precipitation types, characteristics, and intensities observed across the globe
  3. An observation interval that provides temporal sampling commensurate with the variability of precipitation
  4.  Precipitation radars and radiometers in low-inclination orbit to provide a consistent calibration source, as demonstrated by the first two spaceborne radar–radiometer combinations on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission Core Observatory. 

Kidd’s research interests in lie the field of Earth Observation, particularly satellite meteorology and climatology. He has used remotely sensed data for a range of studies, from local vegetation classification from Landsat data, elevation retrieval and analysis from lidar, through to global precipitation from meteorological satellites. It is the latter that has been his main focus of research. He is currently working on multi-source precipitation retrievals using both satellite and surface data sets, including the utilization of cross-track sounding instruments to provide additional information of precipitation.

To access the article, click here: “The Global Satellite Precipitation Constellation: Current Status and Future Requirements”.

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