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Aspects of Precipitation Development in Trade Wind Cumulus Revealed by Differential Reflectivity at S Band

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Early radar echo development in trade wind cumulus clouds is studied using the equivalent reflectivity factor Ze combined with the differential reflectivity Zdr. The clouds studied are among the largest of trade wind cumulus, developing significantly positive values of Zdr and attaining at least about a 30-dBZ equivalent reflectivity factor. The measures used for analysis are values calculated for entire constant–elevation angle sweeps through the clouds and entire volume scans—not maximum single-pulse-volume values. The radar echo evolution follows fairly closely the Marshall–Palmer distribution with scatter toward higher values of Zdr especially in the earliest stages of echo intensification, where some of the scatter in the whole-sweep values is caused by size sorting. The data provide no evidence for an important role of ultragiant aerosols (UGA) in initiating coalescence. They are in strong contrast with similar data from a cloud over northern Alabama that do suggest a major role for UGA in producing several-mm-diameter raindrops that dominate its weak, early radar echo.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Charles A. Knight, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO, 80307-3000. Email: knightc@ucar.edu

Abstract

Early radar echo development in trade wind cumulus clouds is studied using the equivalent reflectivity factor Ze combined with the differential reflectivity Zdr. The clouds studied are among the largest of trade wind cumulus, developing significantly positive values of Zdr and attaining at least about a 30-dBZ equivalent reflectivity factor. The measures used for analysis are values calculated for entire constant–elevation angle sweeps through the clouds and entire volume scans—not maximum single-pulse-volume values. The radar echo evolution follows fairly closely the Marshall–Palmer distribution with scatter toward higher values of Zdr especially in the earliest stages of echo intensification, where some of the scatter in the whole-sweep values is caused by size sorting. The data provide no evidence for an important role of ultragiant aerosols (UGA) in initiating coalescence. They are in strong contrast with similar data from a cloud over northern Alabama that do suggest a major role for UGA in producing several-mm-diameter raindrops that dominate its weak, early radar echo.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Charles A. Knight, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO, 80307-3000. Email: knightc@ucar.edu

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