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You are here: GES DISC Home Precipitation Documentation guide GES DISC DAAC Data Guide: GLOBAL PRECIPITATION CLIMATOLOGY PROJECT


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The purpose of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) is to derive gridded data sets of monthly precipitation totals covering the entire globe based on all available observation technologies and data.

Table of Contents:

1. Project/Campaign Overview:

Name of Project/Campaign:

Global Precipitation Climatology Project

Project/Campaign Introduction:

The purpose of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) is to derive gridded data sets of monthly precipitation totals covering the entire globe based on all available observation technologies and data. The GPCP contributes data sets to the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) and is expected to be a component of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).

Project/Campaign Mission Objectives:

Global Precipitation Observation
Multi-source merged precipitation analysis
Analyses for climate research
Verification of climate models
Verification of satellite based precipitation estimates


Meteorology, Climatology, Hydrology

Geographic Region(s):


Detailed Project/Campaign Description:

The GPCP is a project with objectives defined by the WCRP in an effort to build global precipitation analyses from multiple data sources to include surface rain gauges, satellite rainfall estimates, and model data. It was established by the WCRP in 1986 with the initial goal of providing monthly mean precipitation data on a 2.5 x 2.5 degree latitude -longitude grid for the period 1986-1995. This was recently extended to the year 2000. The GPCP will accomplish this by merging infrared and microwave satellite estimates of precipitation with rain gauge data from more than 30,000 stations. Infrared precipitation estimates are obtained from GOES (United States), GMS (Japan) and Meteosat (European Community) geostationary satellites and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operational polar orbiting satellites. Microwave estimates are obtained from the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites using the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I). These data sets will be used to validate general circulation and climate models, study the global hydrological cycle and diagnose the variability of the global climate system.

The GPCP is organized as follows.

  • IR Component

    Geostationary Satellite Data Processing Centers (GSDPC) collect infrared data from which precipitation is estimated. There is a center for Meteosat, operated by the European Space Operations Centre, GMS, operated by the Japanese Meteorological Agency and GOES and NOAA polar satellite data operated by the National Weather Service, NOAA.

    Geostationary Satellite Precipitation Data Center (GPSPDC) - operated by the National Weather Service, NOAA, collects histograms prepared by the GSDPC and creates a merged set of infrared precipitation estimates.

  • Microwave Component

    Emission Data Processing Center - prepares oceanic precipitation estimates based on emission from 19 Ghz channel of SSM/I. It is located at The National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

    Scattering Data Processing Center - prepares land precipitation estimates from the 85 Ghz channel of SSM/I. It is located at the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS), NOAA.

  • In Situ Component

    The Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) - collects, quality controls and analyzes station data from synoptic reports, climatic summaries and national collections. They will combine satellite and in situ estimates to prepare a global gridded precipitation analysis. The GPCC is located at the Deutscher Wetterdienst, Germany.

  • Calibration/Validation Component- this component is responsible for assuring that satellite estimates are of high quality. This is done through the following:

  • Surface Reference Data Centre (SRDC) - acquires time series of high density gauge data from different climatic regions for long term validation of satellite estimates as well as gridded analyses. It is located at the National Climatic Data Center, NESDIS, NOAA.

  • Algorithm Intercomparison Programme (AIP) - coordinates field campaigns for the validation of satellite algorithms and the development of new algorithms.

  • New Technology - deals with the development and testing of new oceanic rainfall measuring technology. The GPCP has coordinated the use and testing of optical rain gauges and acoustic techniques for measuring oceanic precipitation.


2. Data Availability:

Data Type(s):

Gridded 2.5 degree monthly area-mean precipitation for the surface based on rain gauge observations. Complete global coverage is based on satellite observations and models.

Input/Output Media:

8mm Tape, CD-ROM, 4mm DAT, FTP

Proprietary Status:

None. Must be non-commercial use and may not be sold for profit.

3. Data Access:

Data Center Location:

GPCP data are distributed by the World Data Centre for Meteorology,
NCDC, Asheville, NC,
Telephone: 704-271-4800
FAX: 704-271-4876 (internet)

4. Principal Investigator Information:

Arnold Gruber

5. Submitting Investigator Information:

Office of Research and Applications
Washington D.C. 20233
Ph: 301-763-8127
Fax: 301-763-8108

6. References:

Adler, R. F., Huffman, G.J., Rudolf, B., Schneider, U. and Keehn, P.R.: A Technique for Combining Satellite Data, Raingauge Analysis, and Model Precipitation Information into Global Precipitation Estimates.

GPCC (1992): Monthly precipitation estimates based on gauge measurements on the continents for the year 1987 (preliminary results) and future requirements. Ed. by WCRP and DWD, Rep.-No. DWD/K7/WZN-1992/08-1, Offenbach, August 1992.

Janowiak, E. E. and Arkin, P. A. (1991): Rainfall Variation in the Tropics during 1986-1989, as Estimated from Observations of Cloud-Top Temperature. J. Geophys, Res. 96, Supplement, 3359-3373.

Legates, D. R. (1987): A climatology of global precipitation. Publ. in Climatology 40 (1), Newark, Delaware, 85 pp.

Rudolf, B., Hauschild, H., Reiss, M. and Schneider, U. (1992): Beitrage zum Weltzentrum fur Niederschlagsklimatologie - contributions to the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre. Meteorologische Zeitschrift N. F. 1 (1), 7-84.

Wilheit, T. T., Chang, A. T. C., Chiu, L. S. (1991): Retrieval of Monthly Rainfall Indices from Microwave Radiometric Measurements Using Probability Distribution Functions. J. Atm. Ocean. Tech. 8, 118-136.

Willmott, C. J., Rowe, C. M., Philpot, W. D. (1985): Small-Scale Climate Maps: A Sensitivity Analysis of Some Common Assumptions Associated with Grid-Point Interpolation and Contouring. The American Cartographer 12 (1), 5-16.

WMO (1992): Letter of 25 September 1992 by Secretary-General Prof. Obasi to all WMO Members, No. G/GPCP.

WMO/ICSU (1990): The Global Precipitation Climatology Project - Implementation and Data Management Plan. WMO/TD-No. 367, Geneva, June 1990.

7. Glossary of Terms:

EOSDIS glossary

8. List of Acronyms:

EOSDIS acronyms


Uniform Resource Locator


Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment


World Climate Research Program


Global Climate Observing System

9. Document Information:

Document Revision Date:Fri May 10 11:52:37 EDT 2002
August 22, 1996

Document Review Date:

August 22, 1996

Document ID:

Global Precipitation Climatology Project

Document Curator:

Suraiya Ahmad

Change History

Version 2.0
Version baselined on addition to the GES Controlled Documents List, August 22, 1996.
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