Effects of the three-dimensional hydrometeor distributions of precipitating clouds on passive microwave rainfall estimations

Sung Woo Kim, Dong Bin Shin, Yeji Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Vertically and horizontally inhomogeneous distributions of hydrometeors are often observed in precipitating clouds. The 3-D characteristics can then cause errors in the passive microwave rainfall measurements with the current off-nadir viewing sensors' specifications. This result is due to the fact that the same surface rainfall could be associated with different amounts of hydrometeors depending on the sensors' viewing paths. In this paper, we confirmed that the plane-parallel radiative treatment to the atmosphere leaves a notable deficiency in the microwave radiometric signatures, particularly at the higher frequency channels for different viewing directions when largely inhomogeneous precipitating clouds are accompanied by significant ice particles. The mean differences between the two brightness temperature fields with two opposite azimuthal viewing directions were up to approximately 40 °K for the vertically polarized channel at 85.5 GHz in the case study. The impact of the 3-D effect on the passive microwave rainfall estimations was also examined by synthetic retrievals employing a Bayesian methodology. The results showed that the uncertainty in the rainfall estimations due to the 3-D effect depended on the viewing directions considered in the a priori information. It was also found that taking more viewing angles or the azimuth angles in the a priori information into consideration tended to moderate the retrieval difference that resulted from the different viewing directions. In addition, the retrieval uncertainty related to the 3-D effect appeared to be more significant for heavy rainfall cases with large amounts of ice particles, as expected.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7312959
Pages (from-to)1957-1966
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 1980-2012 IEEE.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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