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  1. James A. Smith

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.me2192

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Smith, J. A. 2005. Rainfall. Water Encyclopedia. 4:309–315.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


The capability to measure rainfall advanced dramatically in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The advances have been paced by remote-sensing technologies including both ground-based weather radar and satellite-borne instruments. The most dramatic developments have centered around the capability to monitor precipitation globally from satellite sensors. This measurement capability provides a variety of avenues for hydroclimatological analysis and forecasting. Advances in ground-based radar technologies and deployment of dense networks of rain gages has enhanced the ability to measure rainfall at short time scales (less than 1 h) and small spatial scales (less than 1 km). These time and space scales are often most relevant for water management applications. A brief summary of rainfall measurement and analysis capabilities is presented in the following three sections and organized by the three principal measurement technologies: rain gage, radar, and satellite.


  • rain gages;
  • radar;
  • satellite-borne instruments;
  • hydroclimatological analysis;
  • satellite