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Improving an Extreme Rainfall Detection System with GPM IMERG data

by Water To Food Team

Many studies have shown a growing trend in terms of frequency and severity of extreme events. As never before, having tools capable to monitor the amount of rain that reaches the Earth’s surface has become a key point for the identification of areas potentially affected by floods. In order to guarantee an almost global spatial coverage, NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) IMERG products proved to be the most appropriate source of information for precipitation retrievement by satellite.

This study is aimed at defining the IMERG accuracy in representing extreme rainfall events for varying time aggregation intervals. This is performed by comparing the IMERG data with the rain gauge ones.

The outcomes demonstrate that precipitation satellite data guarantee good results when the rainfall aggregation interval is equal to or greater than 12 h. More specifically, a 24-h aggregation interval ensures a probability of detection (defined as the number of hits divided by the total number of observed events) greater than 80%.

The outcomes of this analysis supported the development of the updated version of the ITHACA Extreme Rainfall Detection System (ERDS: This system is now able to provide near real-time alerts about extreme rainfall events using a threshold methodology based on the mean annual precipitation.