A Possible Origin of Linear Depolarization Observed at Vertical Incidence in Rain

A. R. Jameson Applied Research Corporation, Landover, Maryland

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S. L. Durden Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Abstract

Recent observations by two different nadir-pointing airborne radars with some polarization capabilities have defected surprisingly large linear depolarization ratios at times in convective tropical rain. This depolarization can he explained if the rain is considered to be a mixture of a group of apparent spheres and another group of drops that are distorted in the horizontal plane perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the incident wave. If confirmed in future observations, this suggests that at times the larger raindrops are oscillating, in part, because of collisions with smaller drops. Since many of the interpretations of the polarization measurements in rain by ground-based radars presume that the raindrop shapes correspond to those of the well-known “equilibrium” drops, the present observations may require adjustments to some radar polarization algorithms for estimating rainfall rate, for example, if the shape perturbations observed at nadir also apply to measurements along other axes as well.

Abstract

Recent observations by two different nadir-pointing airborne radars with some polarization capabilities have defected surprisingly large linear depolarization ratios at times in convective tropical rain. This depolarization can he explained if the rain is considered to be a mixture of a group of apparent spheres and another group of drops that are distorted in the horizontal plane perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the incident wave. If confirmed in future observations, this suggests that at times the larger raindrops are oscillating, in part, because of collisions with smaller drops. Since many of the interpretations of the polarization measurements in rain by ground-based radars presume that the raindrop shapes correspond to those of the well-known “equilibrium” drops, the present observations may require adjustments to some radar polarization algorithms for estimating rainfall rate, for example, if the shape perturbations observed at nadir also apply to measurements along other axes as well.

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