Quasi-vertical profiles (QVPs) of polarimetric radar data have emerged as a powerful tool for studying precipitation microphysics. Various studies have found enhancements in specific differential phase Kdp in regions of suspected secondary ice production (SIP) due to rime splintering. Similar Kdp enhancements have also been found in regions of sublimating snow, another proposed SIP process. This work explores these Kdp signatures for two cases of sublimating snow using nearly collocated S- and Ka-band radars. The presence of the signature was inconsistent between the radars, prompting exploration of alternative causes. Idealized simulations are performed using a radar beam-broadening model to explore the impact of nonuniform beam filling (NBF) on the observed reflectivity Z and Kdp within the sublimation layer. Rather than an intrinsic increase in ice concentration, the observed Kdp enhancements can instead be explained by NBF in the presence of sharp vertical gradients of Z and Kdp within the sublimation zone, which results in a Kdp bias dipole. The severity of the bias is sensitive to the Z gradient and radar beamwidth and elevation angle, which explains its appearance at only one radar. In addition, differences in scanning strategies and range thresholds during QVP processing can constructively enhance these positive Kdp biases by excluding the negative portion of the dipole. These results highlight the need to consider NBF effects in regions not traditionally considered (e.g., in pure snow) due to the increased Kdp fidelity afforded by QVPs and the subsequent ramifications this has on the observability of sublimational SIP.
Many different processes can cause snowflakes to break apart into numerous tiny pieces, including when they evaporate into dry air. Purported evidence of this phenomenon has been seen in data from some weather radars, but we noticed it was not seen in data from others. In this work we use case studies and models to show that this signature may actually be an artifact from the radar beam becoming too big and there being too much variability of the precipitation within it. While this breakup process may actually be occurring in reality, these results suggest we may have trouble observing it with typical weather radars.
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