Matrosov S. Y. (January 2005): Attenuation-Based Estimates of Rainfall Rates Aloft with Vertically Pointing Ka-Band Radars. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 22 (1), 43-54. doi:10.1175/JTECH-1677.1

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Abstract

An approach is suggested to retrieve low-resolution rainfall rate profiles and layer-averaged rainfall rates, Ra, from radar reflectivity measurements made by vertically pointing Ka-band radars. This approach is based on the effects of attenuation of radar signals in rain and takes advantage of the nearly linear relation between specific attenuation and rainfall rate at Ka-band frequencies. The variability of this relation due to temperature, details of raindrop size distributions, and the nature of rain (convective versus stratiform) is rather small (10%) and contributes little to errors in rainfall rate retrievals. The main contribution to the retrieval errors comes from the uncertainty of the difference in the nonattenuated radar reflectivities in the beginning and the end of the range resolution interval. For 2- and 1-dB uncertainties in this difference, the retrieval errors due to this main contribution are less than 34% and 17%, correspondingly, for rains with Ra ≈ 10 mm h−1 at a 1-km resolution interval. The heavier rain rates are retrieved with a better accuracy since this retrieval error contribution is proportional to 1/Ra. The retrieval accuracy can also be improved but at the expense of more coarse vertical resolutions of retrievals since the main retrieval error contribution is also proportional to the reciprocal of the resolution interval. The Mie scattering effects at Ka band results in less variability in nonattenuated reflectivities (cf. lower radar frequencies), which aids the suggested approach. Given that radar receivers are not saturated, the rainfall rates can be retrieved using cloud radars that were originally designed for measuring only nonprecipitating and weakly precipitating clouds. An important advantage of the attenuation-based retrievals of rainfall is that absolute radar calibration is not required. The inclusion of rainfall information will improve the characterization of the atmospheric column obtained with such radars used for climate research. The applications of the suggested approach are illustrated using the vertically pointing Ka-band radar measurements made during a field experiment in southern Florida. The retrieval results are in good agreement with surface estimates of rainfall rates.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/JTECH-1677.1
URI: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/pubs/id/eprint/512