The first global map of rainfall and snowfall from the month of April to September was recently produced by the Global Precipitation Measurement mission.
Launched one year ago on Feb. 27, 2014 as a joint project of NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), this seamless data map shows the combination of information from a fleet of 12 satellites and the GPM Core Observatory. It currently covers 87 percent of the globe that falls in between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south latitude – more than any of the NASA precipitation data sets.
It is updated almost every hour and has repeat coverage every three hours, which allows scientists to know more about the earth’s movement. As normal researchers work to understand the planet’s weather and climate system, the GPM project provides a major step forward in providing the scientific community with comprehensive and consistent measurements of precipitation.
According to a GPM program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington “ With the GPM core observatory acting as an anchor to allow us to cross-calibrate data from a very diverse set of satellite measurements from our international and interagency partners, we can clearly see the big picture in terms of where it’s raining or snowing across the globe.”
Additional satellites from NASA and JAXA are included in the GPM mission as well as some satellites from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Defense’s Meteorological Satellite Program, European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, Indian Space Research Organisation, and France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales.
Rainfall and snowfall plays a vital a part in Earth’s water cycle as it moves water and heat energy around the globe. Rain systems move in a westward direction in a steady stream near the equator, where the Sun’s heat drives evaporation that keeps the air moist. Wherein at higher latitudes, enormous storm fronts moves in the eastward direction across North America and Europe in the Northern Hemisphere as well as across the Souther Ocean that surrounds Antarctica.
With this near-global map, light rain and snow are now being track consistently through these high latitudes and across oceans. Being able to study and measure the falling snow from space through the GPM observations will now go a long way to improving scientists’ understanding of the physics of snowfall.
GPM’s global precipitation maps expand upon and continue the recording of the precipitation collected by the predecessor, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, which was launched in 1997.
It is important to keep the long records of precipitation data as it helps in understanding the Earth’s changing climate. The precipitation data as well as the entire catalogue of GPM data are freely available to registered users from Goddard’s Precipitation Processing System.