How much does it rain over land?


Despite the availability of several observationally constrained data sets of daily precipitation based on rain gauge measurements, remote sensing, and/or reanalyses, we demonstrate a large disparity in the quasi-global land mean of daily precipitation intensity. Surprisingly, the magnitude of this spread is similar to that found in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). A weakness of reanalyses and CMIP5 models is their tendency to over simulate wet days, consistent with previous studies. However, there is no clear agreement within and between rain gauge and remotely sensed data sets either. This large discrepancy highlights a shortcoming in our ability to characterize not only modeled daily precipitation intensities but even observed precipitation intensities. This shortcoming is partially reconciled by an appreciation of the different spatial scales represented in gridded data sets of in situ precipitation intensities and intensities calculated from gridded precipitation. Unfortunately, the spread in intensities remains large enough to prevent us from satisfactorily determining how much it rains over land.

Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 341–348