Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 28 Issue 01

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Volume 28, No. 1
Pages 124 - 133


Regional Rainfall Measurements Using the Passive Aquatic Listener During the SPURS Field Campaign

By Jie Yang , Stephen C. Riser, Jeffrey A. Nystuen, William E. Asher , and Andrew T. Jessup 
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Article Abstract

Knowledge of the intensity and spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall over the ocean is critical in understanding the global hydrological cycle. However, rain has proven difficult to measure over the ocean due to problems associated with platform motion and flow distortion combined with the spatial and temporal variability of rainfall itself. Underwater acoustical rain gauges avoid these issues by using the loud and distinctive underwater sound generated by raindrops on the ocean surface to detect and quantify rainfall. Here, the physics and operation of and results from an instrument that uses underwater ambient sound to measure rainfall rate and wind speed are presented. Passive Aquatic Listener (PAL) instruments were mounted on a buoy deployed at Ocean Station P and on 13 Argo profilers that were deployed as part of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration-sponsored Salinity Processes in the Upper-ocean Regional Study (SPURS) field experiment in the North Atlantic Ocean. The PALs provide near-continuous measurements of rain rate and wind speed during the two-year period over the SPURS study region defined by the Argo profilers. Comparisons of PAL data with rain and wind measured by other techniques, including direct in situ observations and satellite measurements, show good agreement for both rain rate and wind speed.


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