Commercial microwave links as a tool for operational rainfall monitoring in Northern Italy

Roversi, Giacomo; Alberoni, Pier Paolo; Fornasiero, Anna; Porcù, Federico

There is a growing interest in emerging opportunistic sensors for precipitation, motivated by the need to improve its quantitative estimates at the ground. The scope of this work is to present a preliminary assessment of the accuracy of commercial microwave link (CML) retrieved rainfall rates in Northern Italy. The CML product, obtained by the open-source RAINLINK software package, is evaluated on different scales (single link, inline-formula5 km×5 km grid, river basin) against the precipitation products operationally used at Arpae-SIMC, the regional weather service of Emilia-Romagna, in Northern Italy. The results of the 15 inline-formulamin single-link validation with nearby rain gauges show high variability, which can be caused by the complex physiography and precipitation patterns. Known sources of errors (e.g. the attenuation caused by the wetting of the antennas or random fluctuations in the baseline) are particularly hard to mitigate in these conditions without a specific calibration, which has not been implemented. However, hourly cumulated spatially interpolated CML rainfall maps, validated with respect to the established regional gauge-based reference, show similar performance (inline-formulaR2 of 0.46 and coefficient of variation, CV, of 0.78) to adjusted radar-based precipitation gridded products and better performance than satellite-based ones. Performance improves when basin-scale total precipitation amounts are considered (inline-formulaR2 of 0.83 and CV of 0.48). Avoiding regional-specific calibration therefore does not preclude the algorithm from working but has some limitations in probability of detection (POD) and accuracy. A widespread underestimation is evident at both the grid box scale (mean error of inline-formula−0.26) and the basin scale (multiplicative bias of 0.7), while the number of false alarms is generally low and becomes even lower as link coverage increases. Also taking into account delays in the availability of the data (latency of 0.33 inline-formulah for CML against 1 inline-formulah for the adjusted radar and 24 inline-formulah for the quality-controlled rain gauges), CML appears as a valuable data source in particular from a local operational framework perspective. Finally, results show complementary strengths for CMLs and radars, encouraging joint exploitation.

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Roversi, Giacomo / Alberoni, Pier Paolo / Fornasiero, Anna / et al: Commercial microwave links as a tool for operational rainfall monitoring in Northern Italy. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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