The Estimation of Hydrometeor Profiles from Wideband Microwave Observations

Gail M. Skofronick-Jackson Universities Space Research Association, Goddard Visiting Scientist Program, Seabrook, Maryland

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James R. Wang NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Abstract

Profiles of the microphysical properties of clouds and rain cells are essential in many areas of atmospheric research and operational meteorology. To enhance the understanding of the nonlinear and underconstrained relationships between cloud and hydrometeor microphysical profiles and passive microwave brightness temperatures, estimations of cloud profiles for an anvil region, a convective region, and an updraft region of an oceanic squall were performed. The estimations relied on comparisons between radiative transfer calculations of incrementally estimated microphysical profiles and concurrent dual-altitude wideband brightness temperatures from the 22 February 1993 flight during the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment. The wideband observations (10–220 GHz) are necessary for estimating cloud profiles reaching up to 20 km. The low frequencies enhance the rain and cloud water profiles, and the high frequencies are required to detail the higher-altitude ice microphysics. A microphysical profile was estimated for each of the three regions of the storm. Each of the three estimated profiles produced calculated brightness temperatures within ∼10 K of the observations. A majority of the total iterative adjustments were to the estimated profile’s frozen hydrometeor characteristics and were necessary to match the high-frequency calculations with the observations. This requirement indicates a need to validate cloud-resolving models using high frequencies. Some difficulties matching the 37-GHz observation channels on the DC-8 and ER-2 aircraft with the calculations simulated at the two aircraft heights (∼11 km and 20 km, respectively) were noted, and potential causes were presented.

Corresponding author address: Gail M. Skofronick-Jackson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Universities Space Research Association, Code 975, Greenbelt, MD 20771.

gail@sensor2.gsfc.nasa.gov

Abstract

Profiles of the microphysical properties of clouds and rain cells are essential in many areas of atmospheric research and operational meteorology. To enhance the understanding of the nonlinear and underconstrained relationships between cloud and hydrometeor microphysical profiles and passive microwave brightness temperatures, estimations of cloud profiles for an anvil region, a convective region, and an updraft region of an oceanic squall were performed. The estimations relied on comparisons between radiative transfer calculations of incrementally estimated microphysical profiles and concurrent dual-altitude wideband brightness temperatures from the 22 February 1993 flight during the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment. The wideband observations (10–220 GHz) are necessary for estimating cloud profiles reaching up to 20 km. The low frequencies enhance the rain and cloud water profiles, and the high frequencies are required to detail the higher-altitude ice microphysics. A microphysical profile was estimated for each of the three regions of the storm. Each of the three estimated profiles produced calculated brightness temperatures within ∼10 K of the observations. A majority of the total iterative adjustments were to the estimated profile’s frozen hydrometeor characteristics and were necessary to match the high-frequency calculations with the observations. This requirement indicates a need to validate cloud-resolving models using high frequencies. Some difficulties matching the 37-GHz observation channels on the DC-8 and ER-2 aircraft with the calculations simulated at the two aircraft heights (∼11 km and 20 km, respectively) were noted, and potential causes were presented.

Corresponding author address: Gail M. Skofronick-Jackson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Universities Space Research Association, Code 975, Greenbelt, MD 20771.

gail@sensor2.gsfc.nasa.gov

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