The rain gauge network associated with the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (WGEW) in southeastern Arizona provides a unique opportunity for direct comparisons of in situ measurements and satellite-based instantaneous rain rate estimates like those from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR). The WGEW network is the densest rain gauge network in the PR coverage area for watersheds greater than 10 km(2). It consists of 88 weighing rain gauges within a 149-km(2) area. On average, approximately 10 gauges can be found in each PR field of view (similar to 5-km diameter). All gauges are very well synchronized with 1-min reporting intervals. This allows generating very-high-temporal-resolution rain rate fields and obtaining accurate estimates of the area-average rain rate for the entire watershed and for a single PR field of view. In this study, instantaneous rain rate fields from the PR and the spatially interpolated gauge measurements (on a 100 m 100 m grid, updated every 1 min) are compared for all TRMM overpasses in which the PR recorded rain within the WGEW boundaries (25 overpasses during 1999-2010). The results indicate very good agreement between the fields with low bias values (<10%) and high correlation coefficients, especially for the near-nadir cases (>0.9). The correlation is high at overpass time but the peak occurs several minutes after the overpass, which can be explained by the fact that it takes several minutes for the raindrops to reach the gauge from the time they are observed by the PR. The correlation improves with the new version of the TRMM algorithm (V7). The study includes assessment of the accuracy of the reference products.
Amitai, Eyal, Carl L. Unkrich, David C. Goodrich, Emad Habib, and Bryson Thill. "Assessing satellite-based rainfall estimates in semiarid watersheds using the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch gauge network and TRMM PR." Journal of Hydrometeorology 13.5 (2012): 1579-1588.
American Meteorological Society