Measuring rainfall from above and below the sea surface

Quartly, Graham D.; Guymer, Trevor H.; Srokosz, Meric A. ORCID:; Birch, Keith G.; Jones, Claire E.. 2003 Measuring rainfall from above and below the sea surface. In: 3rd Global Precipitation Meeting, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 24-26 Jun 2003. (Submitted)

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Satellites play a major role in the determination of the rainfall at sea. Researchers at Southampton Oceanography Centre (SOC) have been involved in two projects addressing this task. First they have been instrumental in developing techniques to retrieve rain rate information from the 10+ years of dual-frequency altimeter data. The TOPEX radar measures rainfall via the attenuation it causes, producing a climatology that is independent of those derived from passive microwave (PM) and infrared (IR) sensors. Because TOPEX is an active microwave sensor, it can have a much smaller footprint than PM sensors. Therefore it can be used to estimate the size of rain cells, showing that the ITCZ and mid-latitude storm tracks are characterized by larger rain systems than elsewhere. TOPEX’s simultaneous recording of wind and wave data reveal that, for mid-latitude systems, rain is most likely in association with developing seas. All satellite-based datasets require validation, and SOC's work on the development and testing of acoustic rain gauges is the second aspect of this paper. By listening at a range of frequencies, an underwater hydrophone may distinguish the spectra of wind, rain, shipping etc., and estimate the wind speed or rain rate according to the magnitude of the signals. All our campaigns have shown a good acoustic response to changes in wind speed. However the quantitative inversion for recent trials has given values that are too high, possibly because of significant acoustic reflection from the sea bottom. The changes in spectral slope often agree with other observations of rain, although validation experiments in coastal regions are hampered by the extraneous sources present. Acoustic rain gauges would eventually see service not only for routine satellite validation, but also for real-time monitoring of locations of interest.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Paper)
Additional Keywords: rainfall, precipitation, satellite altimetry, in situ, acoustic rain gauges, ENSO, inter-annual
Date made live: 02 Sep 2003 +0 (UTC)

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