Evaluation of the TRMM rainfall product accuracy over the central Mediterranean during a 20-year period (1998–2017)

  • Stavros KoliosEmail author
  • Anastasios Kalimeris
Original Paper


This study presents the first comprehensive evaluation of the performance of the monthly TRMM rainfall product (3B43-v7) in capturing the rainfall patterns, on the geographic area of the central Mediterranean during the period 1998–2017. Monthly rainfall data from a network of ground-based stations were used to compute a series of spatiotemporal evaluation statistics for the satellite measurement accuracy. These statistics showed a satisfactory accuracy of the examined satellite products in capturing seasonal and annual rainfall patterns, having rather high correlation coefficients (0.75 to 0.96). Nevertheless, a slight overestimation of the rainfall values (with a mean value lower than 15 mm) implied by the TRMM was found at seasonal basis with the exception of winter when a small underestimation (with a mean value amounting to 8 mm) was detected. The overestimation tendency was mainly detected over the northern and the western parts of the studied domain, where the effect of the earth surface altitude seems to be important. An underestimation tendency prevails over the marine regions and seems to be associated with the rain rate (in the sense that heavy rainfall episodes are underestimated more). The overall biases of the TRMM rainfall product in respect to the control ground-based station sample found to be within ± 0.2 of the local rainfall standard deviation and nonstatistically significant almost in half of the cases in all seasons except winter. The possible causes of the detected diversity of the seasonal error statistics behavior were further explored and discussed.


Central Mediterranean Rainfall evaluation Ground-based measurements TRMM product 



The authors would like to express special thanks to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that helped to improve the completeness and clarity of the article. The availability of the ground stations data from the European Climate Assessment & Dataset (ECA&D) as well as the satellite data products of the TRMM satellite joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration (JAXA) is appreciated by the authors.


  1. Alexander MA, Kilbourne KH, Nye J (2014) Climate variability during warm and cold phases of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) 1871–2008. J Mar Syst 133:14–26. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alfieri L, Burek P, Dutra E, Krzeminski D, Thielen J, Pappenberger F (2013) GloFAS – global ensemble streamflow forecasting and flood early warning. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 17:1161–1175. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Almazroui M (2011) Calibration of TRMM rainfall climatology over Saudi Arabia during 1998–2009. Atmos Res 99:400–414. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Almazroui M, Awad AM, Nazrul Islam M (2018) Characteristics of the internal and external sources of the Mediterranean synoptic cyclones for the period 1956–2013. Theor Appl Climatol 133:811–827CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arnone E, Pumo D, Viola F, Noto LV, La Loggia G (2013) Rainfall statistics changes in Sicily. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 17:2449–2458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ballari D, Castro E, Campozano L, (2016) Validation of satellite rainfall (TRMM 3B43) in Equadorian coastal plains, Andean Highlands and Amazonian rainforest. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, vol XLI-B8, 2016 XXIII ISPRS Congress, 12–19 July 2016, Prague, Czech RepublicGoogle Scholar
  7. Bartholy J, Pongrácz R, Pattantyús-Ábrahám M (2009) Analyzing the genesis, intensity, and tracks of western Mediterranean cyclones. Theor Appl Climatol 96:133–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bharti V, Singh C (2015) Evaluation of error in TRMM 3B42V7 rainfall estimates over the Himalayan region. J Geophys Res-Atmos 120:12458–12473. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brönnimann S, Xoplaki E, Casty C, Pauling A, Luterbacher J (2007) ENSO influence on Europe during the last centuries. Clim Dyn 28:181–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buttafuoco G, Caloiero T, Coscarelli R (2011) Spatial and temporal patterns of the mean annual precipitation at decadal time scale in southern Italy (Calabria region). Theor Appl Climatol. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Caloiero T, Coscarelli R, Ferrari E, Mancini M (2011) Trend detection of annual and seasonal rainfall in Calabria (Southern Italy). Int J Climatol 31:44–56. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Campins J, Genoves A, Picornell A, Jansa A (2011) Climatology of Mediterranean cyclones using the ERA-40 dataset. Int J Climatol 31:1596–1614. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen F, Li X (2016) Evaluation of IMERG and TRMM 3B43 monthly precipitation products over Mainland China. Remote Sens 8(472). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coscarelli R, Caloiero T (2012) Analysis of daily and monthly rainfall concentration in Southern Italy (Calabria region). J Hydrol 416–417:145–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Criado-Aldeanueva F, Soto-Navarro FJ, García-Lafuente J (2013) Large-scale atmospheric forcing influencing the long-term variability of Mediterranean heat and freshwater budgets: climatic indices. J Hydrometeorol 15:650–663. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dinku T, Ceccato P, Grover-Kopec E, Lemma M, Connor SJ, Ropelewski CF (2007) Validation of satellite rainfall products over East Africa's complex topography. Int J Remote Sens 28(7):1503–1526. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feidas H (2010) Validation of satellite rainfall products over Greece. Theor Appl Climatol 99:193–216. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Flaounas E, Di Luca A, Drobinski P, Mailler S, Arsouze T, Bastin S, Beranger K, Lebeaupin Brossier C (2016) Cyclone contribution to the Mediterranean Sea water budget. Clim Dyn 46(3–4):913–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Frankignoul C, Gastineau G, Kwon Y-O (2015) Wintertime atmospheric response to North Atlantic Ocean circulation variability in a climate model. J Clim 28:7659–7677. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Galanaki E, Lagouvardos K, Kotroni V, Flaounas E, Argiriou A (2018) Thunderstorm climatology in the Mediterranean using cloud-to-ground lightning observations. Atmos Res 207:136–144. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guo R, Liu Y (2016) Evaluation of satellite precipitation products with rain gauge data at different scales: implications for hydrological applications. Water 8:281–289. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hannachi A, Awad A, Ammar K (2010) Climatology and classification of spring Saharan cyclone tracks. Clim Dyn 37(3–4):473–491Google Scholar
  23. Hatzianastassiou N, Papadimas C, Lolis C, Bartzokas A, Levizzani V, Pnevmatikos J, Katsoulis B (2016a) Spatial and temporal variability of rainfall over the Mediterranean Basin based on 32-year satellite Global Rainfall Climatology Project data, part I: evaluation and climatologcal patterns. Int Clim 36:4741–4754. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hatzianastassiou N, Papadimas C, Lolis C, Bartzokas A, Levizzani V, Pnevmatikos J, Katsoulis B (2016b) Spatial and temporal variability of rainfall over the Mediterranean Basin based on 32-year satellite Global Rainfall Climatology Project data, part II: interannual variability and trends. Int Clim 36:4755–4766. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huffman GJ, Adler RF, Bolvin DT, Gu G, Nelkin EJ, Bowman KP, Hong Y, Stocker EF, Wolff DB (2007) The TRMM multi-satellite rainfall analysis: quasi-global, multi-year, combined-sensor rainfall estimates at fine scale. J Hydrometeorol 8:38–55. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huffmann G, Bolvin D (2015) TRMM and other data precipitation rainfall data set documentation. Accessed 8 April 2015
  27. Ivančan-Picek B, Hovarth K, Mahović N, Gajić-Čapka M (2014) Forcing mechanisms of a heavy rainfall event in the southeastern Adriatic area. Nat Hazards 72(2):1231–1252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jolliffe TI, David B, Stephenson BD (2011) Forecast verification: a practitioner’s guide in atmospheric science, 2nd edn. Wiley, Hoboken ISBN: 978-0-470-66071-3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kalimeris A, Founda D (2018) Interannual and interdecadal variability modes of the Athens total cloud cover. Int J Climatol 38(13):4667–4686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kalimeris A, Ranieri E, Founda D, Norrant C (2017) variability modes of along a Central Mediterranean area and their relations with ENSO, NAO, and other climatic patterns. Atmos Res 198:56–80. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Katsanos D, Retalis A, Michaelides S (2016) Validation of a high-resolution precipitation database (CHIRPS) over Cyprus for a 30-year period. Atmos Res 169:459–464. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Klein Tank AMG et al (2002) Daily dataset of 20th-century surface air temperature and precipitation rainfall series for the European Climate Assessment. Int J Climatol 22:1441–1453. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kolios S, Kalimeris A (2017) Annual and monthly precipitation variability in the Ionian Islands using 16-year TRMM data. Perspect Atmos Sci 491–496. Google Scholar
  34. Lionello P, Trigo IF, Gil V, Liberato M, Nissen K, Pinto J, Raible C, Reale M, Tanzarella A, Trigo R, Ulbrich U (2016) Objective climatology of cyclones in the Mediterranean region: a consensus view among methods with different system identification and tracking criteria. Tellus A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography 68:29391. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liu W, Zhang Q, Fu Z, Chen X, Li H (2018) Analysis and Estimation of Geographical and Topographic Influencing Factors for Precipitation Distribution over Complex Terrains: A Case of the Northeast Slope of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. Atmosphere 9:349. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lolis CJ (2009) Winter cloudiness variability in the Mediterranean region and its connection to atmospheric circulation features. Theor Appl Climatol 96:357–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Luo X, Xu Y, Xu J (2010) Application of radial Basis Function Network for spatial precipitation interpolation. Eighth International Conference on Geoinformatics 2010,
  38. Mariotti A, Dell’Aquila A (2011) Decadal climate variability in the Mediterranean region: roles of large-scale forcings and regional processes. Clim Dyn 38(5–6):1129–1145. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Marullo S, Artale V, Santoleri R (2011) The SST multi-decadal variability in the Atlantic–Mediterranean region and its relation to AMO. J Clim 24:4385–4401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Matsagouras IT, Nastos PT, Pytharoulis I (2016) Cloud-to-ground lightning activity over Greece: Spatio-temporal analysis 53 and impacts. Atmos Res 169:485–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Maugeri M, Bagnati Z, Brunetti M, Nanni T (2001) Trends in Italian total cloud amount, 1951–1996. Geophys Res Lett 28:4551–4554. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mehta AV, Yang S (2008) Precipitation climatology over Mediterranean Basin from ten years of TRMM measurements. Adv Geosci 17:87–91. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Michaelides S, Levizanni V, Anagnostou E, Bauer P, Kasparis T, Lane JE (2009) Rainfall: measurement, remote sensing, climatology and modelling. Atmos Res 94:512–533. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Michaelides S, Karacostas T, Sánchez JL, Retalis A, Pytharoulis I, Homar V, Romero R, Zanis P, Giannakopoulos C, Bühl J, Ansmann A, Merino A, Melcón P, Lagouvardos K, Kotroni V, Bruggeman A, López-Moreno JI, Bertheti C, Katragkou E, Tymvios F, Hadjimitsis DG, Mamouri RE, Nisantzi A (2018) Reviews and perspectives of high impact atmospheric processes in the Mediterranean. Atmos Res 208:4–44. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Milewski A, Elkadiri R, Durham M (2015) Assessment and comparison of TMPA satellite precipitation products in varying climatic and topographic regimes in Morocco. Remote Sens 7:4973–6509. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nastos PT, Kapsomenakis J, Douvis KC (2013) Analysis of precipitation rainfall extremes based in satellite and high–resolution gridded data set over Mediterranean basin. Atmos Res 131:46–59. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nastos PT, Kaposmenakis J, Philandras KM (2016) Evaluation of the TRMM 3B43 gridded rainfall estimates over Greece. Atmos Res.
  48. Retalis A, Katsanos D, Michaelides S (2016) Rainfall climatology over the Mediterranean Basin–Validation over Cyprus. Atmos Res 169:449–458. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Romanou A, Tselioudis G, Zerefos C, Clayson C, Curry JA, Andersson A (2010) Evaporation–precipitation rainfall variability over the Mediterranean and the Black Seas from satellite and reanalysis estimates. J Clim 23:5268–5287. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shaofeng J, Wenbin Z, Aifeng L, Tingting Y (2011) A statistical spatial downscaling algorithm of TRMM rainfall based on NDVI and DEM in the Qaidam Basin in China. Remote Sens Environ 115:3069–3079. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Skliris N, Sofianos S, Gkanasos A, Mantziafou A, Vervatis V, Axaopoulos P, Lascaratos A (2011) Decadal scale variability of sea surface temperature in the Mediterranean Sea in relation to atmospheric variability. Ocean Dyn 62:13–30. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tapiador FJ, Navarro A, Levizzani V, García-Ortega E, Huffman GJ, Kidd C, Kucera PA, Kummerow CD, Masunaga H, Petersen WA, Roca R, Sánchez J-L, Tao W-K, Turk FJ (2017) Global precipitation measurements for validating climate models. Atmos Res 197:1–20. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thiemig V, Bisselink B, Pappenberger F, Thielen J (2015) A pan-African medium-range ensemble flood 616 forecast system. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 19:1–21. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wilks DS (2016) Statistical methods in the Atmospheric Sciences. In: Dmowska R, Hartmann D, Rossby T (eds) Int Geophys Series, vol 91. Academic, Cambridge, p 627Google Scholar
  55. Zad SNM, Zulkafli Z, Muharram FM (2018) Satellite Rainfall (TRMM 3B42-V7) Performance Assessment and Adjustment over Pahang River Basin, Malaysia. Remote Sens 10(3):388. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zveryaev I, Hannachi AA (2011) Interannual variability of Mediterranean evaporation and its relation to regional climate. Clim Dyn 38:495–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics, Laboratory of MeteorologyUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece
  2. 2.Department of EnvironmentIonian UniversityZakynthosGreece

Personalised recommendations