Assimilation of weather radar and binary ubiquitous sensor measurements for quantitative precipitation estimation
Assimilation of data from heterogeneous sensors and sensor networks is critical for achieving accurate measurements of environmental processes at the time and space scales necessary to improve forecasting and decision-making. Owing to different measurement accuracies and types of spatial and/or temporal measurement support of the component sensors, it is often unclear how best to combine these data. This study explores the utility of ubiquitous sensors producing categorical wet/dry rainfall measurements for improving the resolution of areal quantitative precipitation estimates through fusion with weather radar observations. The model developed in this study employs a Markov random field model to compute the probability of rainfall at sub-grid pixels. These likelihoods are used to ‘unmix’ the cell-averaged rainfall rate measured by the radar. Simulation studies using synthetic and known rainfall fields reveal that the model can improve remotely sensed quantitative rainfall intensity measurements by 40% using networks of ubiquitous sensors with a density of 56 sensors per square kilometer, and for denser networks, the accuracy can increase by as much as 50%.