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Current Missions

GPM Cold-season Precipitation Experiment (GCPEX)

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The GPM Cold-season Precipitation Experiment (GCPEx) is planned to occur in Ontario, Canada during the winter season, Jan 17- Feb 29, 2012.  GCPEx will seek to address shortcomings in GPM snowfall retrieval algorithm by collecting microphysical properties, associated remote sensing observations, and coordinated model simulations of precipitating snow .  These data sets will be collected toward achieving the overarching goal of GCPEx which is to characterize the ability of multi-frequency active and passive microwave sensors to detect and estimate falling snow. More information on GCPEx may be found at

As a component of the Earth’s hydrologic cycle, and especially at higher latitudes, falling snow represents a primary contribution to regional atmospheric and terrestrial water budgets. Importantly, falling snow also represents a primary source of snow pack accumulation, which in turn provides a large proportion of the fresh water resources required by many communities throughout the world.  Falling snow can also have deleterious impacts on society when it occurs in excess; i.e., blizzards or heavy snow events that cause associated disruptions in transportation, commerce, and power supply. Alternatively, rapidly-melting snowpack causes similar societal impacts via flooding. As in the case of rainfall, it is not possible, or even feasible to adequately quantify the total amount of frozen precipitation occurring at any given time over the entire surface of the Earth using only ground-based remote sensing. In order to collect information on the complete global precipitation cycle, both liquid and frozen precipitation must be collected via spaceborne instrumentation.  Accordingly, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM) with its core satellite scheduled for launch in mid-2013 has been designed to provide uniform and calibrated precipitation measurements over the majority of the globe at a temporal resolution of 2-4 hours. The GPM core and constellation satellites will carry active and passive microwave instrumentation designed to detect and estimate falling snow.


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