Rainfall Nowcasting Using Commercial Microwave Links

R.O. Imhoff*, A. Overeem, C.C. Brauer, H. Leijnse, A.H. Weerts, R. Uijlenhoet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate and timely precipitation forecasts are crucial for early warning. Rainfall nowcasting, the process of statistically extrapolating recent rainfall observations, is increasingly used for short-term forecasting. Nowcasts are generally constructed with high-resolution radar observations. As a proof of concept, we construct nowcasts with country-wide rainfall maps estimated from signal level data of commercial microwave links (CMLs) for 12 summer days in the Netherlands. CML nowcasts compare well to radar rainfall nowcasts. Provided well-calibrated CML rainfall estimates are employed, CML nowcasts can outperform unadjusted real-time radar nowcasts for high rainfall rates, which are underestimated as compared to a reference. Care should be taken with the sensitivity of the advection field derivation to areas with low CML coverage and the inherent measurement scale of CML data, which can be larger than the application scale. We see potential for rainfall nowcasting with CML data, for example, in regions where weather radars are absent.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL089365
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2020


  • commerical microwave links
  • nowcasting
  • opportunistic sensing
  • radar
  • rainfall


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