Precipitation Measurement and the Advancement Toward Global Observations



Precipitation is an important variable in the global hydrologic cycle that helps to sustain life, influences a variety of daily activities, and plays a critical role in the Earth’s energy balance. Our understanding of precipitation, especially in forecast applications, hazards mitigation, and water resources are among the leading challenges in the scientific community. Over the last 50 years, the science of precipitation observation and measurement, particularly at fglobal scales, has advanced quite rapidly since the age of basic precipitation collection at the surface. Scientists have developed numerous techniques to estimate precipitation at the surface and from space, but not without their drawbacks. This article presents an overview of the advantages and limitations of some of the more mainstream techniques of precipitation measurement, and the march toward a relatively high quality, full global precipitation observation network.