Validation of GMI snowfall observations by using a combination of weather radar and surface measurements

Annakaisa von Lerber*, Dmitri Moisseev, David A. Marks, Walter Petersen, Ari Matti Harri, V. Chandrasekar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Currently, there are several spaceborne microwave instruments suitable for the detection and quantitative estimation of snowfall. To test and improve retrieval snowfall algorithms, ground validation datasets that combine detailed characterization of snowfall microphysics and spatial precipitation measurements are required. To this endpoint, measurements of snow microphysics are combined with large-scale weather radar observations to generate such a dataset. The quantitative snowfall estimates are computed by applying eventspecific relations between the equivalent reflectivity factor and snowfall rate to weather radar observations. The relations are derived using retrieved ice particle microphysical properties from observations that were carried out at the University of Helsinki research station in Hyytiälä, Finland, which is about 64 km east of the radar. For each event, the uncertainties of the estimate are also determined. The feasibility of using this type of data to validate spaceborne snowfall measurements and algorithms is demonstrated with the NASA GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) snowfall product. The detection skill and retrieved surface snowfall precipitation of the GPROF detection algorithm, versions V04A and V05A, are assessed over southern Finland. On the basis of the 26 studied overpasses, probability of detection (POD) is 0.90 for version V04A and 0.84 for version V05A, and corresponding false-alarm rates are 0.09 and 0.10, respectively. A clear dependence of detection skill on cloud echo top height is shown: PODincreased from0.8 to 0.99 (V04A) and from0.61 to 0.94 (V05A) as the cloud echo top altitude increased from 2 to 5 km. Both versions underestimate the snowfall rate by factors of 6 (V04A) and 3 (V05A).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-820
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Atmosphere
  • Microwave observations
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Satellite observations
  • Snowfall
  • Surface observations

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