Rainfall intensity estimation by ground-based dual-frequency microwave radiometers

G. R. Liu, C. C. Liu, T. H. Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Many investigators have used satellite data to derive rainfall intensity and to compare them with rain gauge data. However, there has always been a problem: what is the optimal time period for the two different types of data? A set of well-controlled data collected by ground-based dual-frequency microwave radiometers at the National Central University (24.9°N, 121.1°E) in Taiwan between January of 1996 and December of 1997 was used to find the answer. The results show that a 1-h interval would be the optimal time period and that hourly data will provide a better accuracy than other options (5, 10, or 30 min or 2 h). Two algorithms, the differential and the brightness temperature, were established to estimate rainfall intensity using ground-based dual-frequency microwave brightness temperature and rain gauge data. The results show that the root-mean-square error and the correlation coefficient are 0.63 mm h-1 and 0.88, respectively, for the differential method, and 0.91 mm h-1 and 0.71 for the brightness temperature method. The analysis also shows that because the atmospheric background and environmental influence in the continuous observations are identical, the changes in brightness temperature are only caused from the changes in liquid water content in the air. That probably made the differential method a better choice for rainfall intensity estimation than the brightness temperature method. Moreover, ground-based radiometers measure downwelling radiation from bottom up, and little ice-particle scattering or horizontal in homogeneity is involved. The results can be compared with retrievals from satellite microwave radiometers for a better understanding of the physics of microwave emission and scattering due to raindrops or ice particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1041
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


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