Articles | Volume 16, issue 1
Research article
12 Jan 2012
Research article |  | 12 Jan 2012

Evaluation and bias correction of satellite rainfall data for drought monitoring in Indonesia

R. R. E. Vernimmen, A. Hooijer, Mamenun, E. Aldrian, and A. I. J. M. van Dijk

Abstract. The accuracy of three satellite rainfall products (TMPA 3B42RT, CMORPH and PERSIANN) was investigated through comparison with grid cell average ground station rainfall data in Indonesia, with a focus on their ability to detect patterns of low rainfall that may lead to drought conditions. Each of the three products underestimated rainfall in dry season months. The CMORPH and PERSIANN data differed most from ground station data and were also very different from the TMPA 3B42RT data. It proved possible to improve TMPA 3B42RT estimates by applying a single empirical bias correction equation that was uniform in space and time. For the six regions investigated, this reduced the root mean square error for estimates of dry season rainfall totals by a mean 9% (from 44 to 40 mm) and for annual totals by 14% (from 77 to 66 mm). The resulting errors represent 10% and 3% of mean dry season and annual rainfall, respectively. The accuracy of these bias corrected TMPA 3B42RT data is considered adequate for use in real-time drought monitoring in Indonesia. Compared to drought monitoring with only ground stations, this use of satellite-based rainfall estimates offers important advantages in terms of accuracy, spatial coverage, timeliness and cost efficiency.