Tropical rainfall monitoring with commercial microwave links in Sri Lanka

Overeem, Aart; Leijnse, Hidde; Leth, Thomas van; Bogerd, Linda; Priebe, Jan; Tricarico, Daniele; Droste, Arjan Marten; Uijlenhoet, Remko


Commercial microwave links (CMLs) from cellular telecommunication networks can provide a valuable "opportunistic" source of high-resolution space-time rainfall information, complementing traditional in-situ measurement devices (rain gauges, disdrometers) and remote sensors (weather radars, satellites). Their greatest potential lies in areas with low gauge densities and lack of weather radars, often in developing countries with a subtropical or tropical climate and generally large spatial rainfall variability. Here, the open-source R package RAINLINK is employed to retrieve CML rainfall maps covering the majority of Sri Lanka for a 3.5-month period based on CML data from on average 1140 link paths. These are compared locally to hourly and daily rain gauge data, as well as to rainfall maps from the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar on board the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory satellite. The potential of CMLs for real-time tropical rainfall monitoring is demonstrated.