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Are satellite products good proxies for gauge precipitation over Singapore?

Hur, Jina, Raghavan, SrivatsanV., Nguyen, NgocSon, Liong, Shie-Yui
Theoretical and applied climatology 2018 v.132 no.3-4 pp. 921-932
algorithms, climate, climate models, data collection, rain, rain gauges, satellites, summer, uncertainty, winter, Singapore
The uncertainties in two high-resolution satellite precipitation products (TRMM 3B42 v7.0 and GSMaP v5.222) were investigated by comparing them against rain gauge observations over Singapore on sub-daily scales. The satellite-borne precipitation products are assessed in terms of seasonal, monthly and daily variations, the diurnal cycle, and extreme precipitation over a 10-year period (2000–2010). Results indicate that the uncertainties in extreme precipitation is higher in GSMaP than in TRMM, possibly due to the issues such as satellite merging algorithm, the finer spatio-temporal scale of high intensity precipitation, and the swath time of satellite. Such discrepancies between satellite-borne and gauge-based precipitations at sub-daily scale can possibly lead to distorting analysis of precipitation characteristics and/or application model results. Overall, both satellite products are unable to capture the observed extremes and provide a good agreement with observations only at coarse time scales. Also, the satellite products agree well on the late afternoon maximum and heavier rainfall of gauge-based data in winter season when the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is located over Singapore. However, they do not reproduce the gauge-observed diurnal cycle in summer. The disagreement in summer could be attributed to the dominant satellite overpass time (about 14:00 SGT) later than the diurnal peak time (about 09:00 SGT) of gauge precipitation. From the analyses of extreme precipitation indices, it is inferred that both satellite datasets tend to overestimate the light rain and frequency but underestimate high intensity precipitation and the length of dry spells. This study on quantification of their uncertainty is useful in many aspects especially that these satellite products stand scrutiny over places where there are no good ground data to be compared against. This has serious implications on climate studies as in model evaluations and in particular, climate model simulated future projections, when information on precipitation extremes need to be reliable as they are highly crucial for adaptation and mitigation.