Comparison of rainfall products over sub-Sahara Africa

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An ever increasing number of rainfall estimates is available. They are used in many important applications such as flood/drought monitoring, water management, or climate monitoring. Such data are especially valuable in sub-Saharan Africa where rainfall has considerable socio-economic impacts, while the gauge and radar networks are sparse. The choice of a rainfall product can significantly influence the performance of such applications. This study reviews previous works, evaluating or comparing rainfall products over different parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Three types of rainfall products are considered: the gauge-only, the satellite-based and the reanalysis ones. In addition to the global rainfall products, we included three regional ones specifically developed for Africa: the African Rainfall Climatology version 2 (ARC2), the Rainfall Estimate version 2 (RFE2) and the TAMSAT African Rainfall Climatology And Timeseries (TARCAT). The gauge density, the orography and the rainfall regime, which vary with the climate and the season, are influencing the performance of the rainfall products. This review does not focus on comparing results, as many other publications doing so are already available. Instead, we propose this review as a guide through the different rainfall products available over Africa, and the factors influencing their performances. With this review, the reader can make informed decisions about which products serve their specific purpose best.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-596
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Rainfall
  • Model comparison
  • Satellite observations
  • Surface observations

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