Hydrologic Assessment Of IMERG Products Across Spatial Scales Over Iowa


IMERG provides state-of-the-art satellite-based precipitation estimates that combine observations from multiple satellite platforms. This study evaluates IMERG products by examining hydrologic simulations of streamflow at a range of spatial scales. The main objective of this study is to assess the predictive utility of the near-real-time product (IMERG-Early). The assessment also includes the IMERG-Final product that is not available in real time. The authors used MRMS precipitation estimates and USGS streamflow observation data as references for the precipitation and stream-flow evaluations during a 5-yr period (2016–20). The precipitation evaluation results show that IMERG-Early yields significant overestimations, particularly during warm months, with higher variability in its conditional distributions, whereas the performance of IMERG-Final seems unbiased. The authors performed hydrologic simulations using the Iowa Flood Cen-ter's Hillslope Link Model with three precipitation forcing products, i.e., MRMS, IMERG-Early, and IMERG-Final. The simulation results reveal that IMERG-Early leads to high hit and false alarm rates due to its overestimation in precipitation and has almost no skill, as measured by the overall performance metric Kling–Gupta efficiency (KGE), in streamflow prediction regarding basin scales ranging from 10 to 30 000 km2. This indicates that the product requires a bias correction be-fore it is useful for real-time flood prediction. The streamflow prediction performance of IMERG-Final seems comparable to that of MRMS at spatial scales greater than 100 km2. This scale limitation is attributable to the IMERG's product spatial resolution that is inadequate to capture the small-scale variability of precipitation.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


University of Iowa, Grant None

Keywords and Phrases

Hydrology; Precipitation; Remote sensing; Satellite observations

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1525-7541; 1525-755X

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





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Publication Date

01 Jun 2023