Intercomparison between Ground-Based and Spaceborne Radars’ Echo-Top Heights: Application to the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor and the Global Precipitation Measurement

Marc Mandement aCNRM, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France

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Pierre Kirstetter bSchool of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
cSchool of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
dAdvanced Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
eCooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
fNOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Heather Reeves eCooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
fNOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

The accuracy and uncertainty of radar echo-top heights estimated by ground-based radars remain largely unknown despite their critical importance for applications ranging from aviation weather forecasting to severe weather diagnosis. Because the vantage point of space is more suited than that of ground-based radars for the estimation of echo-top heights, the use of spaceborne radar observations is explored as an external reference for cross comparison. An investigation has been carried out across the conterminous United States by comparing the NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system with the space-based radar on board the NASA–JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement satellite platform. No major bias was assessed between the two products. An annual cycle of differences is found, driven by an underestimation of the stratiform cloud echo-top heights and an overestimation of the convective ones. The investigation of the systematic biases for different radar volume coverage patterns (VCP) shows that scanning strategies with fewer tilts and greater voids as VCP 21/121/221 contribute to overestimations observed for high MRMS tops. For VCP 12/212, the automated volume scan evaluation and termination (AVSET) function increases the radar cone of silence, causing overestimations when the echo top lies above the highest elevation scan. However, it seems that for low echo tops the shorter refresh rates contribute to mitigate underestimations, especially in stratiform cases.

This article is included in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM): Science and Applications Special Collection.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter, pierre.kirstetter@noaa.gov

Abstract

The accuracy and uncertainty of radar echo-top heights estimated by ground-based radars remain largely unknown despite their critical importance for applications ranging from aviation weather forecasting to severe weather diagnosis. Because the vantage point of space is more suited than that of ground-based radars for the estimation of echo-top heights, the use of spaceborne radar observations is explored as an external reference for cross comparison. An investigation has been carried out across the conterminous United States by comparing the NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system with the space-based radar on board the NASA–JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement satellite platform. No major bias was assessed between the two products. An annual cycle of differences is found, driven by an underestimation of the stratiform cloud echo-top heights and an overestimation of the convective ones. The investigation of the systematic biases for different radar volume coverage patterns (VCP) shows that scanning strategies with fewer tilts and greater voids as VCP 21/121/221 contribute to overestimations observed for high MRMS tops. For VCP 12/212, the automated volume scan evaluation and termination (AVSET) function increases the radar cone of silence, causing overestimations when the echo top lies above the highest elevation scan. However, it seems that for low echo tops the shorter refresh rates contribute to mitigate underestimations, especially in stratiform cases.

This article is included in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM): Science and Applications Special Collection.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter, pierre.kirstetter@noaa.gov
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