Satellite-Observed Precipitation Response to Ocean Mesoscale Eddies Academic Article uri icon


  • Among various forms of atmospheric response to ocean mesoscale eddies, the rainfall response is the most difficult to quantify and is subject to considerable uncertainty. Here the robustness of the rainfall response is examined by comparing three different satellite-derived rainfall datasets: the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA), NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) morphing technique (CMORPH) global precipitation, and the newly available Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) that is based on the latest remote sensing technology with finer spatial and temporal resolution. Results show that all datasets exhibit a similar rainfall response to ocean eddies, but the amplitude of the rainfall response is much stronger in IMERG than in the other two, despite the fact that IMERG provides the weakest time-mean rainfall estimate. In situ validation against the NOAAs Ocean Climate Stations Project (OCS) Kuroshio Extension Observatory (KEO) buoy rainfall measurement shows that IMERG is more accurate in estimating both the mean value of rainfall and its intensity distribution than the other two products, at least in the Kuroshio Extension region. Further analysis reveals that 1) eddy-induced precipitation response is significantly stronger in winter than in summer, and 2) warm-eddy-induced rainfall response is considerably stronger than cold-eddy-induced response, and these asymmetries in rainfall response are more robust in IMERG than in the other two datasets. Documenting and analyzing these asymmetric rainfall responses is important for understanding the potential role of ocean eddies in forcing the large-scale atmospheric circulation and climate.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Liu, X., Chang, P., Kurian, J., Saravanan, R., & Lin, X.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Liu, Xue||Chang, Ping||Kurian, Jaison||Saravanan, R||Lin, Xiaopei

publication date

  • January 1, 2018 11:11 AM