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The Retrieval of Stratus Cloud Droplet Effective Radius with Cloud Radars

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  • 1 NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, and Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 2 Science Technology Corporation, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 4 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota
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Abstract

In situ samples of cloud droplets by aircraft in Oklahoma in 1997, the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA)/First ISCCP Regional Experiment (FIRE)-Arctic Cloud Experiment (ACE) in 1998, and various other locations around the world were used to evaluate a ground-based remote sensing technique for retrieving profiles of cloud droplet effective radius. The technique is based on vertically pointing measurements from high-sensitivity millimeter-wavelength radar and produces height-resolved estimates of cloud particle effective radius.

Although most meteorological radars lack the sensitivity to detect small cloud droplets, millimeter-wavelength cloud radars provide opportunities for remotely monitoring the properties of nonprecipitating clouds. These high-sensitivity radars reveal detailed reflectivity structure of most clouds that are within several kilometers range. In order to turn reflectivity into usable microphysical quantities, relationships between the measured quantities and the desired quantities must be developed. This can be done through theoretical analysis, modeling, or empirical measurements. Then the uncertainty of each procedure must be determined in order to know which ones to use. In this study, two related techniques are examined for the retrieval of the effective radius. One method uses both radar reflectivity and integrated liquid water through the clouds obtained from a microwave radiometer; the second uses the radar reflectivity and an assumption that continental stratus clouds have a concentration of 200 drops per cubic centimeter and marine stratus 100 cm−3. Using in situ measurements of marine and continental stratus, the error analysis herein shows that the error in these techniques would be about 15%. In comparing the techniques with in situ aircraft measurements of effective radius, it is found that the radar radiometer retrieval was not quite as good as the technique using radar reflectivity alone. The radar reflectivity alone gave a 13% standard deviation with the in situ comparison, while the radar–radiometer retrieval gave a 19% standard deviation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Shelby Frisch, NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Colorado State University, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: Shelby.Frisch@noaa.gov

Abstract

In situ samples of cloud droplets by aircraft in Oklahoma in 1997, the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA)/First ISCCP Regional Experiment (FIRE)-Arctic Cloud Experiment (ACE) in 1998, and various other locations around the world were used to evaluate a ground-based remote sensing technique for retrieving profiles of cloud droplet effective radius. The technique is based on vertically pointing measurements from high-sensitivity millimeter-wavelength radar and produces height-resolved estimates of cloud particle effective radius.

Although most meteorological radars lack the sensitivity to detect small cloud droplets, millimeter-wavelength cloud radars provide opportunities for remotely monitoring the properties of nonprecipitating clouds. These high-sensitivity radars reveal detailed reflectivity structure of most clouds that are within several kilometers range. In order to turn reflectivity into usable microphysical quantities, relationships between the measured quantities and the desired quantities must be developed. This can be done through theoretical analysis, modeling, or empirical measurements. Then the uncertainty of each procedure must be determined in order to know which ones to use. In this study, two related techniques are examined for the retrieval of the effective radius. One method uses both radar reflectivity and integrated liquid water through the clouds obtained from a microwave radiometer; the second uses the radar reflectivity and an assumption that continental stratus clouds have a concentration of 200 drops per cubic centimeter and marine stratus 100 cm−3. Using in situ measurements of marine and continental stratus, the error analysis herein shows that the error in these techniques would be about 15%. In comparing the techniques with in situ aircraft measurements of effective radius, it is found that the radar radiometer retrieval was not quite as good as the technique using radar reflectivity alone. The radar reflectivity alone gave a 13% standard deviation with the in situ comparison, while the radar–radiometer retrieval gave a 19% standard deviation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Shelby Frisch, NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Colorado State University, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: Shelby.Frisch@noaa.gov

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