Validation of IMERG precipitation in Africa

J Hydrometeorol. 2017 Oct;18(10):2817-2825. doi: 10.1175/jhm-d-17-0139.1. Epub 2017 Oct 25.


Our understanding of hydroclimatic processes in Africa has been hindered by the lack of in-situ precipitation measurements. Satellite-based observations, in particular, the TRMM Multi-Satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) have been pivotal to filling this void. The recently-released Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) project aims to continue the legacy of its predecessor, TMPA, and provide higher resolution data. Here, we validate IMERG-V04A precipitation data using in-situ observations from the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) project. Various evaluation measures are examined over a select number of stations in West and East Africa. In addition, continent-wide comparisons are made between IMERG and TMPA. The results show that the performance of the satellite-based products varies by season, region and the evaluation statistics. Precipitation diurnal cycle is relatively better captured by IMERG than TMPA. Both products exhibit a better agreement with gauge data in East Africa and humid West Africa than in the Southern Sahel. However, a clear advantage for IMERG is not apparent in detecting the annual cycle. Although all gridded products used here reasonably capture the annual cycle, some differences are evident during the short rains in East Africa. Direct comparison between IMERG and TMPA over the entire continent reveals that the similarity between the two products is also regionally heterogeneous. Except for Zimbabwe and Madagascar, where both satellite-based observations present a good agreement, the two products generally have their largest differences over mountainous regions. IMERG seems to have achieved a reduction in the positive bias evident in TMPA over Lake Victoria.