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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
05 Sep 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).
Rainfall retrieval with commercial microwave links in São Paulo, Brazil
Manuel F. Rios Gaona1,4, Aart Overeem1,2, Tim H. Raupach3, Hidde Leijnse2, and Remko Uijlenhoet1 1Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
2R&D Observations and Data Technology, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, 3731 GA De Bilt, the Netherlands
3Environmental Remote Sensing Laboratory, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
4IIHR - Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa, Stanley Hydraulics Lab (SHL), Iowa City, USA
Abstract. In the last decade there has been a growing interest from the hydrometeorological community regarding rainfall estimation from commercial microwave link (CML) networks. Path-averaged rainfall intensities can be retrieved from the signal attenuation between cell phone towers. Although this technique is still in development, it offers great opportunities for the retrieval of rainfall rates at high spatiotemporal resolutions very close to the Earth's surface. Rainfall measurements at high spatiotemporal resolutions are highly valued in urban hydrology, for instance, given the large impact that flash floods exert on society. Flash floods are triggered by intense rainfall events that develop over short time scales.

Here, we present one of the first evaluations of this measurement technique for a subtropical climate. Rainfall estimation for subtropical climates is highly relevant, since many countries with few surface rainfall observations are located in such areas. The test bed of the current study is the Brazilian city of São Paulo. The open-source algorithm RAINLINK was applied to retrieve rainfall intensities from (power) attenuation measurements. The performance of RAINLINK estimates was evaluated for 5 of the 250 CML in the São Paulo metropolitan area for which we received data, for 81 days between October 2014 and January 2015. We evaluated the retrieved rainfall intensities and accumulations from CML against those from a dense automatic gauge network. Results were found to be promising and encouraging, especially for short links, for which high correlations (> 0.9) and low biases (~ 30 % and lower) were obtained.

Citation: Rios Gaona, M. F., Overeem, A., Raupach, T. H., Leijnse, H., and Uijlenhoet, R.: Rainfall retrieval with commercial microwave links in São Paulo, Brazil, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Manuel F. Rios Gaona et al.
Manuel F. Rios Gaona et al.
Manuel F. Rios Gaona et al.


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