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A 3-GHz Profiler for Precipitating Cloud Studies

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Aeronomy Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

A 3-GHz profiler has been developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aeronomy Laboratory to observe the evolution and vertical structure of precipitating cloud systems. The profiler is very portable, robust, and relatively inexpensive, so that continuous, unattended observations of overhead precipitation can be obtained, even at remote locations. The new profiler is a vertically looking Doppler radar that operates at S band, a commonly used band for scanning weather radars (e.g., WSR-88D). The profiler has many features in common with the 915-MHz profiler developed at the Aeronomy Laboratory during the past decade primarily for measurement of lower-tropospheric winds in the Tropics. This paper presents a description of the new profiler and evaluates it in the field in Illinois and Australia in comparison with UHF lower-tropospheric profilers. In Illinois, the new profiler was evaluated alongside a collocated 915-MHz profiler at the Flatland Atmospheric Observatory. In Australia it was evaluated alongside a 920-MHz profiler during the Maritime Continent Thunderstorm Experiment. The results from these campaigns confirm the approximate 20-dB improvement in sensitivity, as expected for Rayleigh scatter. The results show that the new profiler provides a substantial improvement in the ability to observe deep cloud systems in comparison with the 915-MHz profilers.

Corresponding author address: Warner L. Ecklund, NOAA, ERL, Aeronomy Laboratory, 325 Broadway R/E/AL3, Boulder, CO 80303.

Email: wle@al.noaa.gov

Abstract

A 3-GHz profiler has been developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aeronomy Laboratory to observe the evolution and vertical structure of precipitating cloud systems. The profiler is very portable, robust, and relatively inexpensive, so that continuous, unattended observations of overhead precipitation can be obtained, even at remote locations. The new profiler is a vertically looking Doppler radar that operates at S band, a commonly used band for scanning weather radars (e.g., WSR-88D). The profiler has many features in common with the 915-MHz profiler developed at the Aeronomy Laboratory during the past decade primarily for measurement of lower-tropospheric winds in the Tropics. This paper presents a description of the new profiler and evaluates it in the field in Illinois and Australia in comparison with UHF lower-tropospheric profilers. In Illinois, the new profiler was evaluated alongside a collocated 915-MHz profiler at the Flatland Atmospheric Observatory. In Australia it was evaluated alongside a 920-MHz profiler during the Maritime Continent Thunderstorm Experiment. The results from these campaigns confirm the approximate 20-dB improvement in sensitivity, as expected for Rayleigh scatter. The results show that the new profiler provides a substantial improvement in the ability to observe deep cloud systems in comparison with the 915-MHz profilers.

Corresponding author address: Warner L. Ecklund, NOAA, ERL, Aeronomy Laboratory, 325 Broadway R/E/AL3, Boulder, CO 80303.

Email: wle@al.noaa.gov

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