Articles | Volume 15, issue 4
Research article
06 Apr 2011
Research article |  | 06 Apr 2011

South African Weather Service operational satellite based precipitation estimation technique: applications and improvements

E. de Coning and E. Poolman

Abstract. Extreme weather related to heavy or more frequent precipitation events seem to be a likely possibility for the future of our planet. While precipitation measurements can be done by means of rain gauges, the obvious disadvantages of point measurements are driving meteorologists towards remotely sensed precipitation methods. In South Africa more sophisticated and expensive nowcasting technology such as radar and lightning networks are available, supported by a fairly dense rain gauge network of about 1500 daily gauges. In the rest of southern Africa rainfall measurements are more difficult to obtain. The local version of the Unified Model and the Meteosat Second Generation satellite data are ideal components of precipitation estimation in data sparse regions such as Africa. In South Africa hourly accumulations of the Hydroestimator (originally from NOAA/NESDIS) are currently used as a satellite based precipitation estimator for the South African Flash Flood Guidance system, especially in regions which are not covered by radar. In this study the Hydroestimator and the stratiform rainfall field from the Unified Model are both bias corrected and then combined into a new precipitation field. The new product was tested over a two year period and provides a more accurate and comprehensive input to the Flash Flood Guidance systems in the data sparse southern Africa. Future work will include updating the period over which bias corrections were calculated.