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The VHF Doppler Radar as a Tool for Cloud and Precipitation Studies

Koichiro WakasugiAeronomy Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, CO 80303

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Ben B. BalsleyAeronomy Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, CO 80303

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Terry L. ClarkNational Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307

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Abstract

The VHF Doppler radar has become a powerful tool for probing structures and motions of the clear air. In this paper, we discuss the capability of VHF radar as a tool for cloud and precipitation studies. Large fluctuations of refractive index from the cloudy air can be anticipated because of an abundance of water in clouds. Due to the difficulties in obtaining the necessary fine-scale observational data within clouds, we base our analysis of cloud-echoing properties on the numerical simulation of nonprecipitating cumulus by Klaassen and Clark. The Bragg scatter echo intensity is estimated from the temperature and humidity fields obtained from the cloud model. We find that the echo is enhanced at the boundary between the cloud and environment because of enhanced water vapor fluctuations. Although echoes from nonprecipitating clouds can be detected by UHF and VHF radars, only VHF radars can discriminate echoes due to large precipitation particles from the Bragg scatter echo of cloudy air. With UHF radars, the precipitation echoes totally mask the Brag scatter echoes.

Abstract

The VHF Doppler radar has become a powerful tool for probing structures and motions of the clear air. In this paper, we discuss the capability of VHF radar as a tool for cloud and precipitation studies. Large fluctuations of refractive index from the cloudy air can be anticipated because of an abundance of water in clouds. Due to the difficulties in obtaining the necessary fine-scale observational data within clouds, we base our analysis of cloud-echoing properties on the numerical simulation of nonprecipitating cumulus by Klaassen and Clark. The Bragg scatter echo intensity is estimated from the temperature and humidity fields obtained from the cloud model. We find that the echo is enhanced at the boundary between the cloud and environment because of enhanced water vapor fluctuations. Although echoes from nonprecipitating clouds can be detected by UHF and VHF radars, only VHF radars can discriminate echoes due to large precipitation particles from the Bragg scatter echo of cloudy air. With UHF radars, the precipitation echoes totally mask the Brag scatter echoes.

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