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Recording Global Precipitation: CMORPH

Climate Data Record helps meteorology, hydrology, and climate studies

Photo of supercell thunderstorm above western Kansas
Courtesy of NOAA National Weather Service

A dataset used extensively for research and climate science has been added as a new NOAA Climate Data Record (CDR). The CMORPH CDR provides operational global precipitation data. Development of the CDR represents an achievement in the advancement of global precipitation products with refined resolution and improved quality.

Developed by the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (CPC), CMORPH comes exclusively from satellite observations that are then analyzed using surface precipitation data. CMORPH data are available from 1998 to the present and are generated in half-hour, hourly, and daily intervals at two spatial resolutions. CDR-quality data archived by NCEI are available about two months after generation. Preliminary data are available about 12 hours after collection from CPC, making CMORPH a prime candidate for near-real-time monitoring applications.

Precipitation observations come from passive microwave sensors onboard low-Earth polar orbiting satellites (POES) along with infrared measurements of surface/cloud-top temperatures derived from geostationary satellites (GOES) and ancillary data, such as snow cover. Those data are then analyzed using NOAA’s daily precipitation gauge data over land and the Global Precipitation Climatology Project’s Pentad analysis over the ocean.

Applications of CMORPH

CMORPH, originally named for a “morphing” or advection scheme of cloud features, is used in a wide range of applicationsfrom global and regional climatologies studies to hydrological modeling, extreme event analysis, and water resources systems management.

Going forward, the dataset could be useful for monitoring applications, such as extreme rainfall or global drought monitoring, according to scientists at NCEI and the Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS), who contributed to the development of the CMORPH CDR. Additionally, a wide array of more typical applications and analyses are possible, including the determination of rainfall patterns at the annual, seasonal, and monthly scale, and the study of extreme rainfall events and daily cycles of precipitation.

CDR Program

NCEI’s CDR Program maintains consistent, reliable, and scientifically robust and transparent data and products. All operational CDRs made available by NCEI must meet data-sharing and transparency requirements as well as rigorous quality standards recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and other expert organizations.

CDRs must be of sufficient length, consistency, and continuity for researchers and observers to gain a valid measure of each variable and how it may change over time. CDRs are available for other global precipitation datasets, and cloud properties, ocean heat, solar irradiances, and more.

Interest in CDR data comes from many sectors: energy, water resources, agriculture, human health, national security, coastal communities, and numerous other public and private interest groups. NOAA develops CDRs with the goal that their applicability can improve resiliency to climate events, assist national security, and provide insights to economic outlooks due to climate.


Xie, P., R. Joyce, S. Wu, S.-H. Yoo, Y. Yarosh, F. Sun, and R. Lin, 2017. Reprocessed, bias-corrected CMORPH global high-resolution precipitation estimates from 1998. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 18, 1617-1641.