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Non-parametric rain/no rain screening method for satellite-borne passive microwave radiometers at 19–85 GHz channels with the Random Forests algorithm

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This paper presents a novel non-parametric pattern recognition method to screen rain/no rain status for satellite-borne passive microwave radiometers in the 19–85 GHz channels. The method is based on randomized decision trees with bootstrap aggregation (Random Forests (RF) algorithm). It relies on pragmatic associations between the input features using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) calibrated brightness temperatures and precipitation radar (PR) rain/no rain information as targets. Both these instruments are carried on board the TRMM satellite. In order to develop the method, first, the 10 most significant input features are selected by using feature importance criteria through out-of-bag (OOB) statistics from a total of 17 input features. The input features include the brightness temperatures, as well as some computed signatures – polarization differences (PD), polarization-corrected temperatures (PCT), and scattering indices (SI) at in the 19–85 GHz channels. The feature selection is carried out for different types of surface terrain (ocean, land, and coast), and the selected features are then used for final RF algorithm development. During the dichotomous statistical assessment of the method against the PR rain/no rain status as ‘truth’, the presented method produced reasonable threat scores of 0.50, 0.43, and 0.39, respectively, over ocean, land, and coast surface terrains. Furthermore, the results are compared with the dichotomous scores derived by the Goddard profiling algorithm (GPROF) and, remarkably, the RF-based method corroborated better statistical scores than that of the GPROF. The presented method does not rely on any a priori information and is applicable to other passive microwave radiometers at similar frequencies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan 2: Department of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Publication date: May 3, 2014

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