How to access TAMSAT rainfall estimates


There are several options to download TAMSAT rainfall estimates:

Time and area subsetting tool

Extract a time-series for a given location or an area-average from January 1983 to present.
This tool is recommended for users conducting time-series analysis.

Data download tool (individual files)

Download individual rainfall files (netCDF format at 0.0375° resolution) and accompanying quicklook files (png format).
This is useful if you want to look at rainfall estimates for a single event or over a short time-period. You can also browse these files using HTTP file listing here.

Zipped files (by year)

Rainfall estimates for a given time-step and year compressed into a single zip file.
This is useful if you need to download multiple files at once. If you need to download the entire archive, we suggest using a download utility such as wget. An example (bash shell) script to download the entire archive can be found here.

Regridded files

Rainfall estimates interpolated to a common grid (0.25°, 0.5° and 1.0°).
These regridded files enable users to handle the data with greater ease. Interpolation has been carried out using the robust interpolation package within cf-python.

TAMSAT-derived soil moisture

Soil moisture
This dataset is produced using TAMSAT rainfall estimates to drive a land surface model along with observations from the NASA SMAP satellite mission and is updated in near-real time.

Dataset properties

Products rainfall estimates, rainfall anomalies (relative to the 1983-2012 climatology), rainfall climatologies (30-year; 1983-2012)
Latest version v3.1 (officially replaces v3.0 as of 1st July 2020; see here for product release notes)
Time-step daily, pentadal, dekadal, monthly, seasonal (DJF, MAM, JJA and SON)
Spatial domain African continent, including Madagascar (N: 38.025°, S: -35.9625°, W: -19.012°, E:51.975°)
Dimensions 1974 pixels (latitude) by 1894 pixels (longitude)
Spatial resolution 0.0375° (approx. 4km)
Temporal coverage 1st January 1983 to present day

within 2 days after each pentad - the products are created on the following days of each month;

  • the daily and pentadal products are created on the 1st, 6th, 11th, 16th, 21st and 26th
  • the dekadal products are create on the 1st, 11th and 21st
  • the monthly products are created on the 1st
  • the seasonal products are created every 3 months on the 1st March, 1st June, 1st September, and 1st December
Data format netCDF
Available variables 'rfe', 'rfe_filled'


Changes between v3.0 and v3.1

As of 1st July 2020, v.3.1 replaces v3.0. The changes introduced into v3.1 are:

  • Filling in all missing days so that the rainfall record is temporally complete. So that it is clear what days have been recovered and those that have not, we have introduced an additional variable into the netCDF file - 'rfe_filled' which contains estimates for all days, including those recovered. The existing variable 'rfe' are for days that have not been recovered and is therefore empty for such days. As such, we recommend any users who wish to use the most reliable data (e.g. for validation/assessment) to use this variable (rfe). Information about which files have been recovered can be found here.
  • Additional rain gauges used to calibrate the cold cloud duration (CCD)
  • Allowing the minimum threshold temperature to extend to -65°C (as opposed to -60°C)

As there have been no significant algorithmic changes between v3.0 and v3.1, the estimates are very similar. Consequently, we do not expect any major differences if users suddenly switch from v3.0 to v3.1. If you have any queries about switching to v3.1, please do contact us (


What if I am using TAMSAT v2.0 or v3.0 data? 

  • TAMSAT v3.0 will be retired at the end of 2020. If you are still requiring access to TAMSATv3.0, details on how to access the data can be found here.
  • TAMSAT v2.0 will also be retired at the end of 2020. If you are still using TAMSAT v2.0, we strongly advise you to switch to v3.1 as soon as possible. If you still need access to v2.0 now, please contact the TAMSAT Group ( who will be able to provide you with the appropriate download links.


Product release notes

For information about new releases, updates or changes relating to the TAMSAT operational rainfall estimates, please refer to the TAMSAT dataset release notes, found here.


Citing TAMSAT data

If you make use of TAMSAT data, please observe the TAMSAT Data Policy. In accordance with our data policy, when using TAMSAT data, you are required to cite the following papers:

  • Maidment, R. I., D. Grimes, E. Black, E. Tarnavsky, M. Young, H. Greatrex, R. P. Allan et al. (2017). A new, long-term daily satellite-based rainfall dataset for operational monitoring in Africa Nature Scientific Data 4: 170063 DOI:10.1038/sdata.2017.63.
  • Tarnavsky, E., D. Grimes, R. Maidment, E. Black, R. Allan, M. Stringer, R. Chadwick, F. Kayitakire (2014). Extension of the TAMSAT Satellite-based Rainfall Monitoring over Africa and from 1983 to present Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climate DOI 10.1175/JAMC-D-14-0016.1
  • Maidment, R., D. Grimes, R.P.Allan, E. Tarnavsky, M. Stringer, T. Hewison, R. Roebeling and E. Black (2014). The 30 year TAMSAT African Rainfall Climatology And Time series (TARCAT) data set Journal of Geophysical Research DOI: 10.1002/2014JD021927


For further information on TAMSAT data products, see our FAQ page.