Bayesian retrieval of complete posterior PDFs of oceanic rain rate from microwave observations
Chiu, J. C. and Petty, G.W. (2006) Bayesian retrieval of complete posterior PDFs of oceanic rain rate from microwave observations. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 45 (8). pp. 1073-1095. ISSN 1558-8424
To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JAM2392.1
A new Bayesian algorithm for retrieving surface rain rate from Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) over the ocean is presented, along with validations against estimates from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR). The Bayesian approach offers a rigorous basis for optimally combining multichannel observations with prior knowledge. While other rain-rate algorithms have been published that are based at least partly on Bayesian reasoning, this is believed to be the first self-contained algorithm that fully exploits Bayes’s theorem to yield not just a single rain rate, but rather a continuous posterior probability distribution of rain rate. To advance the understanding of theoretical benefits of the Bayesian approach, sensitivity analyses have been conducted based on two synthetic datasets for which the “true” conditional and prior distribution are known. Results demonstrate that even when the prior and conditional likelihoods are specified perfectly, biased retrievals may occur at high rain rates. This bias is not the result of a defect of the Bayesian formalism, but rather represents the expected outcome when the physical constraint imposed by the radiometric observations is weak owing to saturation effects. It is also suggested that both the choice of the estimators and the prior information are crucial to the retrieval. In addition, the performance of the Bayesian algorithm herein is found to be comparable to that of other benchmark algorithms in real-world applications, while having the additional advantage of providing a complete continuous posterior probability distribution of surface rain rate.