Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
Research article
31 Jan 2012
Research article |  | 31 Jan 2012

PM-GCD – a combined IR–MW satellite technique for frequent retrieval of heavy precipitation

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

Abstract. Precipitation retrievals based on measurements from microwave (MW) radiometers onboard low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites can reach high level of accuracy – especially regarding convective precipitation. At the present stage though, these observations cannot provide satisfactory coverage of the evolution of intense and rapid precipitating systems. As a result, the obtained precipitation retrievals are often of limited use for many important applications – especially in supporting authorities for flood alerts and weather warnings. To tackle this problem, over the past two decades several techniques have been developed combining accurate MW estimates with frequent infrared (IR) observations from geosynchronous (GEO) satellites, such as the European Meteosat Second Generation (MSG). In this framework, we have developed a new fast and simple precipitation retrieval technique which we call Passive Microwave – Global Convective Diagnostic, (PM-GCD). This method uses MW retrievals in conjunction with the Global Convective Diagnostic (GCD) technique which discriminates deep convective clouds based on the difference between the MSG water vapor (6.2 μm) and thermal-IR (10.8 μm) channels. Specifically, MSG observations and the GCD technique are used to identify deep convective areas. These areas are then calibrated using MW precipitation estimates based on observations from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) radiometers onboard operational NOAA and Eumetsat satellites, and then finally propagated in time with a simple tracking algorithm. In this paper, we describe the PM-GCD technique, analyzing its results for a case study that refers to a flood event that struck the island of Sicily in southern Italy on 1–2 October 2009.