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Polarization Diversity for Millimeter Spaceborne Doppler Radars: An Answer for Observing Deep Convection?

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  • 1 University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
  • | 2 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • | 3 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
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Abstract

Spaceborne Doppler radars have the potential to provide key missing observations of convective vertical air motions especially over the tropical oceans. Such measurements can improve understanding of the role of tropical convection in vertical energy transport and its interaction with the environment. Several millimeter wavelength Doppler radar concepts have been proposed since the 1990s. The Earth Clouds, Aerosols, and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) will be the first Dopplerized atmospheric radar in space but has not been optimized for Doppler measurements in deep convective clouds.

The key challenge that constrains the CPR performance in convective clouds is the range–Doppler dilemma. Polarization diversity (PD) offers a solution to this constraint by decoupling the coherency (Doppler) requirement from the unambiguous range requirement. Careful modeling of the radar signal depolarization and its impact on radar receiver channel cross talk is needed to accurately assess the performance of the PD approach.

The end-to-end simulator presented in this work allows reproduction of the signal sensed by a Doppler radar equipped with polarization diversity when overpassing realistic three-dimensional convective cells, with all relevant cross-talk sources accounted for. The notional study highlights that multiple scattering is the primary source of cross talk, highly detrimental for millimeter Doppler velocity accuracy. The ambitious scientific requirement of 1 m s−1 accuracy at 500-m integration for reflectivities above −15 dBZ are within reach for a W-band radar with a 2.5-m antenna with optimal values of the pulse-pair interval between 20 and 30 μs but only once multiple scattering and ghost-contaminated regions are screened out. The identification of such areas is key for Doppler accuracies and can be achieved by employing an interlaced pulse-pair mode that measures the cross and the copolar reflectivities. To mitigate the impact of attenuation and multiple scattering, the Ka band has been considered as either alternative or additional to the W band. However, a Ka system produces worse Doppler performances than a W-band system with the same 2.5-m antenna size. Furthermore, in deep convection it results in similar levels of multiple scattering and therefore it does not increase significantly the depth of penetration. In addition, the larger footprint causes stronger nonuniform beam-filling effects. One advantage of the Ka-band option is the larger Nyquist velocity that tends to reduce the Doppler accuracies. More significant benefits are derived from the Ka band when observing precipitation not as intense as the deep convection is considered here.

This study demonstrates that polarization diversity indeed represents a very promising methodology capable of significantly reducing aliasing and Doppler moment estimate errors, two main error sources for Doppler velocity estimates in deep convective systems and a key step to achieving typical mission requirements for convection-oriented millimeter radar-based spaceborne missions.

Corresponding author address: Alessandro Battaglia, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, United Kingdom. E-mail: ab474@le.ac.uk

Abstract

Spaceborne Doppler radars have the potential to provide key missing observations of convective vertical air motions especially over the tropical oceans. Such measurements can improve understanding of the role of tropical convection in vertical energy transport and its interaction with the environment. Several millimeter wavelength Doppler radar concepts have been proposed since the 1990s. The Earth Clouds, Aerosols, and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) will be the first Dopplerized atmospheric radar in space but has not been optimized for Doppler measurements in deep convective clouds.

The key challenge that constrains the CPR performance in convective clouds is the range–Doppler dilemma. Polarization diversity (PD) offers a solution to this constraint by decoupling the coherency (Doppler) requirement from the unambiguous range requirement. Careful modeling of the radar signal depolarization and its impact on radar receiver channel cross talk is needed to accurately assess the performance of the PD approach.

The end-to-end simulator presented in this work allows reproduction of the signal sensed by a Doppler radar equipped with polarization diversity when overpassing realistic three-dimensional convective cells, with all relevant cross-talk sources accounted for. The notional study highlights that multiple scattering is the primary source of cross talk, highly detrimental for millimeter Doppler velocity accuracy. The ambitious scientific requirement of 1 m s−1 accuracy at 500-m integration for reflectivities above −15 dBZ are within reach for a W-band radar with a 2.5-m antenna with optimal values of the pulse-pair interval between 20 and 30 μs but only once multiple scattering and ghost-contaminated regions are screened out. The identification of such areas is key for Doppler accuracies and can be achieved by employing an interlaced pulse-pair mode that measures the cross and the copolar reflectivities. To mitigate the impact of attenuation and multiple scattering, the Ka band has been considered as either alternative or additional to the W band. However, a Ka system produces worse Doppler performances than a W-band system with the same 2.5-m antenna size. Furthermore, in deep convection it results in similar levels of multiple scattering and therefore it does not increase significantly the depth of penetration. In addition, the larger footprint causes stronger nonuniform beam-filling effects. One advantage of the Ka-band option is the larger Nyquist velocity that tends to reduce the Doppler accuracies. More significant benefits are derived from the Ka band when observing precipitation not as intense as the deep convection is considered here.

This study demonstrates that polarization diversity indeed represents a very promising methodology capable of significantly reducing aliasing and Doppler moment estimate errors, two main error sources for Doppler velocity estimates in deep convective systems and a key step to achieving typical mission requirements for convection-oriented millimeter radar-based spaceborne missions.

Corresponding author address: Alessandro Battaglia, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, United Kingdom. E-mail: ab474@le.ac.uk
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