Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
Research article
27 May 2011
Research article |  | 27 May 2011

Lightning-based propagation of convective rain fields

S. Dietrich, D. Casella, F. Di Paola, M. Formenton, A. Mugnai, and P. Sanò

Abstract. This paper describes a new multi-sensor approach for continuously monitoring convective rain cells. It exploits lightning data from surface networks to propagate rain fields estimated from multi-frequency brightness temperature measurements taken by the AMSU/MHS microwave radiometers onboard NOAA/EUMETSAT low Earth orbiting operational satellites. Specifically, the method allows inferring the development (movement, morphology and intensity) of convective rain cells from the spatial and temporal distribution of lightning strokes following any observation by a satellite-borne microwave radiometer. Obviously, this is particularly attractive for real-time operational purposes, due to the sporadic nature of the low Earth orbiting satellite measurements and the continuous availability of ground-based lightning measurements – as is the case in most of the Mediterranean region. A preliminary assessment of the lightning-based rainfall propagation algorithm has been successfully made by using two pairs of consecutive AMSU observations, in conjunction with lightning measurements from the ZEUS network, for two convective events. Specifically, we show that the evolving rain fields, which are estimated by applying the algorithm to the satellite-based rainfall estimates for the first AMSU overpass, show an overall agreement with the satellite-based rainfall estimates for the second AMSU overpass.