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A Comparative Study of Rainfall Retrievals Based on Specific Differential Phase Shifts at X- and S-Band Radar Frequencies

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, and NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 3 Department of Electrical Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 4 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, and NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

A comparative study of the use of X- and S-band polarimetric radars for rainfall parameter retrievals is presented. The main advantage of X-band polarimetric measurements is the availability of reliable specific differential phase shift estimates, KDP, for lighter rainfalls when phase measurements at the S band are too noisy to produce usable KDP. Theoretical modeling with experimental raindrop size distributions indicates that due to some non-Rayleigh resonant effects, KDP values at a 3.2-cm wavelength (X band) are on average a factor of 3.7 greater than at 11 cm (S band), which is a somewhat larger difference than simple frequency scaling predicts. The non-Rayleigh effects also cause X-band horizontal polarization reflectivity, Zeh, and differential reflectivity, ZDR, to be larger than those at the S band. The differences between X- and S-band reflectivities can exceed measurement uncertainties for Zeh starting approximately at Zeh > 40 dBZ, and for ZDR when the mass-weighted drop diameter, Dm, exceeds about 2 mm. Simultaneous X- and S-band radar measurements of rainfall showed that consistent KDP estimates exceeding about 0.1° km−1 began to be possible at reflectivities greater than ∼26–30 dBZ while at the S band such estimates can generally be made if Zeh > ∼35–39 dBZ. Experimental radar data taken in light-to-moderate stratiform rainfalls with rain rates R in an interval from 2.5 to 15 mm h−1 showed availability of the KDP-based estimates of R for most of the data points at the X band while at the S band such estimates were available only for R greater than about 8–10 mm h−1. After correcting X-band differential reflectivity measurements for differential attenuation, ZDR measurements at both radar frequency bands were in good agreement with each other for Dm < 2 mm, which approximately corresponds to ZDR ≈ 1.6 dB. The ZDR-based retrievals of characteristic raindrop sizes also agreed well with in situ disdrometer measurements.

Corresponding author address: S. Y. Matrosov, NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, R/PSD2, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: Sergey.Matrosov@noaa.gov

Abstract

A comparative study of the use of X- and S-band polarimetric radars for rainfall parameter retrievals is presented. The main advantage of X-band polarimetric measurements is the availability of reliable specific differential phase shift estimates, KDP, for lighter rainfalls when phase measurements at the S band are too noisy to produce usable KDP. Theoretical modeling with experimental raindrop size distributions indicates that due to some non-Rayleigh resonant effects, KDP values at a 3.2-cm wavelength (X band) are on average a factor of 3.7 greater than at 11 cm (S band), which is a somewhat larger difference than simple frequency scaling predicts. The non-Rayleigh effects also cause X-band horizontal polarization reflectivity, Zeh, and differential reflectivity, ZDR, to be larger than those at the S band. The differences between X- and S-band reflectivities can exceed measurement uncertainties for Zeh starting approximately at Zeh > 40 dBZ, and for ZDR when the mass-weighted drop diameter, Dm, exceeds about 2 mm. Simultaneous X- and S-band radar measurements of rainfall showed that consistent KDP estimates exceeding about 0.1° km−1 began to be possible at reflectivities greater than ∼26–30 dBZ while at the S band such estimates can generally be made if Zeh > ∼35–39 dBZ. Experimental radar data taken in light-to-moderate stratiform rainfalls with rain rates R in an interval from 2.5 to 15 mm h−1 showed availability of the KDP-based estimates of R for most of the data points at the X band while at the S band such estimates were available only for R greater than about 8–10 mm h−1. After correcting X-band differential reflectivity measurements for differential attenuation, ZDR measurements at both radar frequency bands were in good agreement with each other for Dm < 2 mm, which approximately corresponds to ZDR ≈ 1.6 dB. The ZDR-based retrievals of characteristic raindrop sizes also agreed well with in situ disdrometer measurements.

Corresponding author address: S. Y. Matrosov, NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, R/PSD2, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: Sergey.Matrosov@noaa.gov

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