Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Bravo, Rolando


Availability of precipitation data is very important in every aspect related to hydrology. Readings from the ground stations are reliable and are used in hydrological models to do various analysis. However, the predictions are always associated with uncertainties due to the limited number of ground stations, which requires interpolation of the data. Meanwhile, groundbreaking approach in capturing precipitation events from vantage point through satellites in space has created a platform to not only merge ground data with satellite estimates to produce more accurate result, but also to find the data where ground stations are not available or scarcely available. Nevertheless, the data obtained through these satellite missions needs to be verified on its temporal and spatial resolution as well as the uncertainties associated before we make any decisions on its basis. This study focuses on finding and evaluating data obtained from two multi-satellite precipitation measurements missions: i) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) ii) Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. GPM is the latest mission launched on Feb 28, 2014 after the successful completion of TRMM mission which collected valuable data for 17 years since its launch in November 1997. Both near real time and final version precipitation products for TMPA and GPM are considered for this study. Two study areas representing eastern and western parts of the United States of America (USA) are considered: i) Charlotte (CLT) in North Carolina ii) San Francisco (SF) in California. Evaluation is carried out for daily accumulated rainfall estimates and single rainfall events. Statistical analysis and error categorization of daily accumulated rainfall estimates were analyzed in two parts: i) Ten yeas data available for TMPA products were considered for historical analysis ii) Both TMPA and GPM data available for a ten-month common period was considered for GPM Era analysis. To study how well the satellite estimates with their finest temporal and spatial resolution capture single rainfall event and to explore their engineering application potential, an existing model of SF watershed prepared in Infoworks Integrated Catchment Model (ICM) was considered for hydrological simulation. Infoworks ICM is developed and maintained by Wallingford Software in the UK and SF watershed model is owned by San Francisco Public Works (SFPW). The historical analysis of TMPA products suggested overestimation of rainfall in CLT region while underestimation in SF region. This underestimation was largely associated with missed-rainfall events and negative hit events in SF. This inconsistency in estimation was evident in GPM products as well. However, in the study of single rainfall events with higher magnitude of rainfall depth in SF, the total rainfall volume and runoff volume generated in the watershed were over-estimated. Hence, satellite estimates in general tends to miss rainfall events of lower magnitude and over-estimate rainfall events of higher magnitude. From statistical analysis of GPM Era data, it was evident that GPM has been able to correct this inconsistency to some extent where it minimized overestimation in CLT region and minimized negative error due to underestimation in SF. GPM products fairly captured the hydrograph shape of outflow in SF watershed in comparison to TMPA. From this study, it can be concluded that even though GPM precipitation estimates could not quiet completely replace ground rain gage measurements as of now, with the perpetual updating of algorithms to correct its associated error, it holds realistic engineering application potential in the near future.




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