Effect of TRMM Orbit Boost on Radar Reflectivity Distributions

David A. Short Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan

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Kenji Nakamura Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan

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Abstract

Probability distributions of measured radar reflectivity from the precipitation radar (PR) on board the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite show a small, counterintuitive increase in the midrange, 20–34 dBZ, when comparing data from periods before and after the orbit altitude was boosted in August 2001. Data from two 2-yr time periods, 1999–2000 (preboost) and 2002–03 (postboost), show statistically significant differences of 2%–3% at altitudes of 2, 4, and 10 km and for path-averaged reflectivity.

The bivariate Gaussian function, used to model idealized radar response functions, has mathematical properties that indicate an increase in field-of-view (FOV) size associated with an increase in satellite altitude can be expected to result in a narrowing of observed dBZ distributions, with a resulting increase in midrange values. Numerical simulations with echo areas much smaller and larger than the TRMM PR FOV before (4.3 km) and after (5.0 km) boost are used to demonstrate basic characteristics of the observed and expected distribution changes.

Corresponding author address: David Short, Applied Electromagnetic Research Center, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, 4-2-1 Nukui-kitamachi, Koganei-shi, Tokyo 184-8795, Japan. Email: dshort@nict.go.jp

Abstract

Probability distributions of measured radar reflectivity from the precipitation radar (PR) on board the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite show a small, counterintuitive increase in the midrange, 20–34 dBZ, when comparing data from periods before and after the orbit altitude was boosted in August 2001. Data from two 2-yr time periods, 1999–2000 (preboost) and 2002–03 (postboost), show statistically significant differences of 2%–3% at altitudes of 2, 4, and 10 km and for path-averaged reflectivity.

The bivariate Gaussian function, used to model idealized radar response functions, has mathematical properties that indicate an increase in field-of-view (FOV) size associated with an increase in satellite altitude can be expected to result in a narrowing of observed dBZ distributions, with a resulting increase in midrange values. Numerical simulations with echo areas much smaller and larger than the TRMM PR FOV before (4.3 km) and after (5.0 km) boost are used to demonstrate basic characteristics of the observed and expected distribution changes.

Corresponding author address: David Short, Applied Electromagnetic Research Center, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, 4-2-1 Nukui-kitamachi, Koganei-shi, Tokyo 184-8795, Japan. Email: dshort@nict.go.jp

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