A Machine Learning Approach for Improving Near-Real-Time Satellite-Based Rainfall Estimates by Integrating Soil Moisture

Ashish Kumar, Raaj Ramsankaran, Luca Brocca, Francisco Munoz-Arriola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Near-real-time (NRT) satellite-based rainfall estimates (SREs) are a viable option for flood/drought monitoring. However, SREs have often been associated with complex and nonlinear errors. One way to enhance the quality of SREs is to use soil moisture information. Few studies have indicated that soil moisture information can be used to improve the quality of SREs. Nowadays, satellite-based soil moisture products are becoming available at desired spatial and temporal resolutions on an NRT basis. Hence, this study proposes an integrated approach to improve NRT SRE accuracy by combining it with NRT soil moisture through a nonlinear support vector machine-based regression (SVR) model. To test this novel approach, Ashti catchment, a sub-basin of Godavari river basin, India, is chosen. Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA)-based NRT SRE 3B42RT and Advanced Scatterometer-derived NRT soil moisture are considered in the present study. The performance of the 3B42RT and the corrected product are assessed using different statistical measures such as correlation coefficient (CC), bias, and root mean square error (RMSE), for the monsoon seasons of 2012-2015. A detailed spatial analysis of these measures and their variability across different rainfall intensity classes are also presented. Overall, the results revealed significant improvement in the corrected product compared to 3B42RT (except CC) across the catchment. Particularly, for light and moderate rainfall classes, the corrected product showed the highest improvement (except CC). On the other hand, the corrected product showed limited performance for the heavy rainfall class. These results demonstrate that the proposed approach has potential to enhance the quality of NRT SRE through the use of NRT satellite-based soil moisture estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2221
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Near real time satellite rainfall estimates
  • Satellite-based soil moisture estimates
  • Support vector machine-based regression (SVR)
  • TMPA 3B42RT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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