Intensity–Duration–Frequency (IDF) curves are widely used to quantify the probability of occurrence of rainfall extremes. The usual rain gauge based approach provides accurate curves for a specific location, but uncertainties arise when ungauged regions are examined or catchment scale information is required. Remotely sensed rainfall records, e.g. from weather radars and satellites, are recently becoming available, providing high resolution information on rainfall extremes at regional or even global scales: their uncertainty and implications on water resources applications urge to be investigated. This study compares IDF curves from radar and satellite (CMORPH) estimates over the Eastern Mediterranean (covering Mediterranean, semiarid and arid climates) and quantifies the uncertainty related to their limited record on varying climates. We show that radar identifies thicker tail distributions than satellite, in particular for short durations, and that the shape parameters depends on the spatial and temporal aggregation scales. The spatial correlation between radar-IDFs and satellite-IDFs is as high as 0.7 for 2–5 years return period and decreases with longer return periods, especially for short durations. The uncertainty related to the use of short records is important when the record length is comparable to the return period (\~ 50 %, \~ 100 % and \~ 150 % for Mediterranean, semiarid and arid climates, respectively). The agreement between IDF curves derived from different sensors on Mediterranean and, to a good extent, semiarid climates, demonstrates the potential of remote sensing datasets and instils confidence on their quantitative use for ungauged areas of the Earth.