Task 244

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission

Principal Investigator(s):

D. Kirschbaum


A. Hou

Last Updated:

October 26, 2012 15:26:10

Description of Problem

Communicate the scientific objectives and societal applications of satellite-based precipitation information from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.

Scientific Objectives and Approach

Support application and public outreach activities for the GPM mission to advance scientific and societal applications of satellite precipitation data. Develop content for outreach materials and applications research.


The primary goal of this on-going activity is to develop content, communicate messages, and describe activities of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission will offer a new generation of space-borne precipitation measurements using a constellation of satellites in conjunction with an advanced radar-radiometer system on a GPM “Core Satellite” to deliver near real-time estimates of rain and snow every 2-4 hours anywhere on the globe (Figure 1). GPM is designed to advance scientific understanding of the Earth’s water and energy cycle but will also provide near real-time data for a wide array of societal applications, including monitoring of natural hazards events such as floods and landslides, improving hydrometerological modeling inputs, and increasing understanding of the water cycle and freshwater availability, among others.

A major accomplishment this year has been to develop a series of articles, meeting summaries, and web material for the mission. The GPM team was invited to submit a cover article to the magazine Meteorological Technology International. The article described the GPM mission concept with respect to advancing precipitation measurement from space. The article described the new capabilities of the GPM Core Observatory, including the first space-borne Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) and a GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) (Figure 2). These instruments will have increased sensitivity to light rain and snowfall and will serve as a precipitation physics observatory and establish a transfer standard to unify and refine precipitation measurements from a constellation of sensors. The core observatory, scheduled to launch in July 2013, will be deployed in a non-Sun-synchronous orbit at a 65° inclination and a mean altitude of 407 km to maximize latitudinal coverage while keeping a relatively short procession period to sample diurnal variability of precipitation for over 90% of the Earth.

One exciting application of the GPM mission will be its ability to provide new insights into landslide monitoring and forecasting. A system has been developed which couples TRMM multi-satellite precipitation analysis (TMPA) precipitation information with a static susceptibility map to identify potential landslide activity at the global scale (Figure 3). Recent work has shown that this system has promise at the global and regional level, but higher spatiotemporal precipitation inputs are required for better characterization of precipitation extremes. With improved spatial and temporal resolution, GPM’s Level 3 merged product will improve upon the current resolution of TRMM products and increase model performance accuracy.

Refereed Journal Publications

Kirschbaum, D., A. Hou, 2010: At The Core: Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission. Meteorological Technology International, November – 2010: 6 – 10.

Kirschbaum, D. B., et al. (2010), 4th Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Interna¬tional Ground Validation (GV) Meeting Summary, The Earth Observer, September – October 2010, Vol 22, Issue 5: 39 – 42.

McMurdy, Michelle, D.B. Kirschbaum, A. Hou, et al., 2011: 2010 Precipitation Measurement Missions (PMM) Science Team Meeting, The Earth Observer, January – February 2011, Vol. 23, Issue 1: 34 – 37.

Kirschbaum, D.B., R. Adler, Y. Hong, S. Kumar, C. Peters-Lidard, A. Lerner-Lam, 2011: Advances in landslide hazard assessment: Evaluation of a global and regional modeling approach. Environmental Earth Sciences, DOI: 10.1007/s12665-011-0990-3, in press.

Task Figures

Fig. 1 – Comparison of mean revisit times (in hours) of the current capabilities (left) and GPM constellation in 2015.

Fig. 2 – Diagram of the GPM Core Observatory, highlighting the location of the GMI and DPR as well as ground resolution and swath of the sensors.

Fig. 3 – Flowchart of Landslide “Nowcasting” algorithm, proving an example of how GPM data will be applied within this application framework.