Model Studies of the Beam-Filling Error for Rain-Rate Retrieval with Microwave Radiometers

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  • 1 Climate System Research Program, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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Abstract

Low-frequency (<20 GHz) single-channel microwave retrievals of rain rate encounter the problem of beam-filling error. This error stems from the fact that the relationship between microwave brightness temperature and rain rate is nonlinear, coupled with the fact that the field of view is large or comparable to important sales of variability of the rain field. This means that one may not simply insert the area average of the brightness temperature into the formula for rain rate without incurring both bias and random error. The statistical heterogeneity of the rain-rate field in the footprint of the instrument is key to determining the nature of these errors. This paper makes use of a series of random rain-rate fields to study the size of the bias and random error associated with beam filling. A number of examples are analyzed in detail: the binomially distributed field, the gamma, the Gaussian, the mixed gamma, the lognormal. and the mixed lognormal (“mixed” here means there is a finite probability of no rain rate at a point of space-time). Of particular interest are the applicability of a simple error formula due to Chiu and collaborators and a formula that might hold in the large field of view limit. It is found that the simple formula holds for Gaussian rain-rate fields but begins to fail for highly skewed fields such as the mixed lognormal. While not conclusively demonstrated here, it is suggested that the notion of climatologically adjusting the retrievals to remove the beam-filling bias is a reasonable proposition.

Abstract

Low-frequency (<20 GHz) single-channel microwave retrievals of rain rate encounter the problem of beam-filling error. This error stems from the fact that the relationship between microwave brightness temperature and rain rate is nonlinear, coupled with the fact that the field of view is large or comparable to important sales of variability of the rain field. This means that one may not simply insert the area average of the brightness temperature into the formula for rain rate without incurring both bias and random error. The statistical heterogeneity of the rain-rate field in the footprint of the instrument is key to determining the nature of these errors. This paper makes use of a series of random rain-rate fields to study the size of the bias and random error associated with beam filling. A number of examples are analyzed in detail: the binomially distributed field, the gamma, the Gaussian, the mixed gamma, the lognormal. and the mixed lognormal (“mixed” here means there is a finite probability of no rain rate at a point of space-time). Of particular interest are the applicability of a simple error formula due to Chiu and collaborators and a formula that might hold in the large field of view limit. It is found that the simple formula holds for Gaussian rain-rate fields but begins to fail for highly skewed fields such as the mixed lognormal. While not conclusively demonstrated here, it is suggested that the notion of climatologically adjusting the retrievals to remove the beam-filling bias is a reasonable proposition.

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