Changes in TRMM rainfall due to the orbit boost estimated from buoy rain gauge data Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract During the first three-and-a-half years of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the TRMM satellite operated at a nominal altitude of 350 km. To reduce drag, save maneuvering fuel, and prolong the mission lifetime, the orbit was boosted to 403 km in August 2001. The change in orbit altitude produced small changes in a wide range of observing parameters, including field-of-view size and viewing angles. Due to natural variability in rainfall and sampling error, it is not possible to evaluate possible changes in rainfall estimates from the satellite data alone. Changes in TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) and the precipitation radar (PR) precipitation observations due to the orbit boost are estimated by comparing them with surface rain gauges on ocean buoys operated by the NOAA/Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory (PMEL). For each rain gauge, the bias between the satellite and the gauge for pre- and postboost time periods is computed. For the TMI, the satellite is biased 12% low relative to the gauges during the preboost period and 1% low during the postboost period. The mean change in bias relative to the gauges is approximately 0.4 mm day1. The change in TMI bias is rain-rate-dependent, with larger changes in areas with higher mean precipitation rates. The PR is biased significantly low relative to the gauges during both boost periods, but the change in bias from the pre- to postboost period is not statistically significant.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • DeMoss, J. D., & Bowman, K. P.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • DeMoss, Jeremy D||Bowman, Kenneth P

publication date

  • September 2007