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Dual-Polarized Radar and Surface Observations of a Winter Graupel Shower with Negative Zdr Column

V. N. BringiDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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P. C. KennedyDepartment of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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G.-J. HuangDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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C. KleinkortDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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M. ThuraiDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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B. M. NotarošDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

Comprehensive analysis of an unusual graupel-shower event recorded by an S-band polarimetric radar and two optical-imaging surface instruments is presented. The primary radar characteristic was negative differential reflectivity Zdr values along a vertical column. During the afternoon hours of 16 February 2015, a sequence of three showers that were composed primarily of small (8–15-mm diameter) graupel affected the ground instrumentation site that was established for the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera and Radar (MASCRAD) experiment in the high plains of Colorado. While these showers passed the instrumentation site, the CSU–CHILL radar conducted high-time-resolution (~2.5-min cycle time) range–height indicator (RHI) scans from a range of 13 km. The RHI data show that the negative Zdr values extended vertically through much of the reflectivity cores, implying that the reflectivity-weighted mean axis ratios of the graupel particles in this event remained somewhat prolate throughout their lifetime. To be specific, the cores of the convective showers only extended to heights of ~3.5 km AGL and had fractionally negative (from ~−0.3 to −0.7 dB) Zdr levels in those cores. Particle-image data obtained by the MASC system and by a collocated 2D video disdrometer measured the diameters, shapes, and fall speeds of the graupel particles as they reached the surface. The graupel particles were found to be primarily of the lump type with a slightly prolate mean shape (especially for the larger-diameter particles). Microwave backscatter calculations confirm that the graupel-particle shape and orientation characteristics are consistent with the observed slightly, but consistently, negative Zdr values.

Corresponding author e-mail: Patrick C. Kennedy, patrick.kennedy@colostate.edu

Abstract

Comprehensive analysis of an unusual graupel-shower event recorded by an S-band polarimetric radar and two optical-imaging surface instruments is presented. The primary radar characteristic was negative differential reflectivity Zdr values along a vertical column. During the afternoon hours of 16 February 2015, a sequence of three showers that were composed primarily of small (8–15-mm diameter) graupel affected the ground instrumentation site that was established for the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera and Radar (MASCRAD) experiment in the high plains of Colorado. While these showers passed the instrumentation site, the CSU–CHILL radar conducted high-time-resolution (~2.5-min cycle time) range–height indicator (RHI) scans from a range of 13 km. The RHI data show that the negative Zdr values extended vertically through much of the reflectivity cores, implying that the reflectivity-weighted mean axis ratios of the graupel particles in this event remained somewhat prolate throughout their lifetime. To be specific, the cores of the convective showers only extended to heights of ~3.5 km AGL and had fractionally negative (from ~−0.3 to −0.7 dB) Zdr levels in those cores. Particle-image data obtained by the MASC system and by a collocated 2D video disdrometer measured the diameters, shapes, and fall speeds of the graupel particles as they reached the surface. The graupel particles were found to be primarily of the lump type with a slightly prolate mean shape (especially for the larger-diameter particles). Microwave backscatter calculations confirm that the graupel-particle shape and orientation characteristics are consistent with the observed slightly, but consistently, negative Zdr values.

Corresponding author e-mail: Patrick C. Kennedy, patrick.kennedy@colostate.edu
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