Review of the different sources of uncertainty in single polarization radar-based estimates of rainfall

Gabriele Villarini, Witold F. Krajewski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

348 Scopus citations


It is well acknowledged that there are large uncertainties associated with radar-based estimates of rainfall. Numerous sources of these errors are due to parameter estimation, the observational system and measurement principles, and not fully understood physical processes. Propagation of these uncertainties through all models for which radar-rainfall are used as input (e. g., hydrologic models) or as initial conditions (e. g., weather forecasting models) is necessary to enhance the understanding and interpretation of the obtained results. The aim of this paper is to provide an extensive literature review of the principal sources of error affecting single polarization radar-based rainfall estimates. These include radar miscalibration, attenuation, ground clutter and anomalous propagation, beam blockage, variability of the Z-R relation, range degradation, vertical variability of the precipitation system, vertical air motion and precipitation drift, and temporal sampling errors. Finally, the authors report some recent results from empirically-based modeling of the total radar-rainfall uncertainties. The bibliography comprises over 200 peer reviewed journal articles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-129
Number of pages23
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Estimation
  • Radar remote sensing
  • Rainfall
  • Uncertainty


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