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The Effect of Drop-Size Distribution Variability on Radiometric Estimates of Rainfall Rates for Frequencies from 3 to 10 GHz

A. R. JamesonApplied Research Corporation, Landover, Maryland

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Abstract

The substantial upwelling microwave radiation emitted by rain, as well as the relative simplicity of radiometers, guarantees their continuing important role in measuring rain from space. However, for frequencies greater than around 20 GHz, ice clouds overlying rain often scatter much of the upwelling radiation out of the field of view. In addition, at these frequencies raindrops scatter so well that oven when a few more are added to an already low concentration of drops, the additional drops actually scatter away more radiation than they contribute to the field of view. Because of these two effects, the direct measurement of rainfall rate at high microwave frequencies using upwelling radiation is restricted to low rainfall rates.

In contrast, from 3 to 10 GHz emissions from raindrops and from clouds dominate the radiative transfer equation. Because emission and absorption are reciprocal, the combined absorption coefficient of the cloud and the rain can be estimated from the upwelling radiation at these frequencies. After extracting the component due to rain (ka), it may be used to estimate the rainfall rate ξ(R). It is important, therefore, that R depend as strongly as possible on ka.

The physical link between R and ka varies depending upon the microwave frequency. The weaker the relation the more sensitive ka and ξ(R) are to variations in the drop-size distribution. In this study it is shown that the scatter in ka and ξ(R), in response to variations in the drop-size distribution, is greatest at 8 and smallest at 3 GHz.

Abstract

The substantial upwelling microwave radiation emitted by rain, as well as the relative simplicity of radiometers, guarantees their continuing important role in measuring rain from space. However, for frequencies greater than around 20 GHz, ice clouds overlying rain often scatter much of the upwelling radiation out of the field of view. In addition, at these frequencies raindrops scatter so well that oven when a few more are added to an already low concentration of drops, the additional drops actually scatter away more radiation than they contribute to the field of view. Because of these two effects, the direct measurement of rainfall rate at high microwave frequencies using upwelling radiation is restricted to low rainfall rates.

In contrast, from 3 to 10 GHz emissions from raindrops and from clouds dominate the radiative transfer equation. Because emission and absorption are reciprocal, the combined absorption coefficient of the cloud and the rain can be estimated from the upwelling radiation at these frequencies. After extracting the component due to rain (ka), it may be used to estimate the rainfall rate ξ(R). It is important, therefore, that R depend as strongly as possible on ka.

The physical link between R and ka varies depending upon the microwave frequency. The weaker the relation the more sensitive ka and ξ(R) are to variations in the drop-size distribution. In this study it is shown that the scatter in ka and ξ(R), in response to variations in the drop-size distribution, is greatest at 8 and smallest at 3 GHz.

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