Microphysical and Polarimetric Radar Modeling of Hydrometeor Refreezing

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

A unique polarimetric radar signature indicative of hydrometeor refreezing during ice pellet events has been documented in several recent studies, yet the underlying microphysical causes remain unknown. The signature is characterized by enhancements in differential reflectivity (ZDR), specific differential phase (KDP), and linear depolarization ratio (LDR), and a reduction in co-polar correlation coefficient (ρhv) within a layer of decreasing radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization (ZH). In previous studies, the leading hypothesis for the observed radar signature is the preferential refreezing of small drops. Here, a simplified, one-dimensional, explicit bin microphysics model is developed to simulate the refreezing of fully melted hydrometeors, and coupled with a polarimetric radar forward operator to quantify the impact of preferential refreezing on simulated radar signatures. The modeling results demonstrate that preferential refreezing is insufficient by itself to produce the observed signatures. In contrast, simulations considering an ice shell growing asymmetrically around a freezing particle (i.e., emulating a thicker ice shell on the bottom of a falling particle) produce realistic ZDR enhancements, and also closely replicate observed features in ZH, KDP, LDR, and ρhv. Simulations that assume no increase in particle wobbling with freezing produce an even greater ZDR enhancement, but this comes at the expense of reducing the LDR enhancement. It is suggested that the polarimetric refreezing signature is instead strongly related to both the distribution of the unfrozen liquid portion within a freezing particle, and the orientation of this liquid with respect to the horizontal.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Dana M. Tobin, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, OK, 73072. E-mail: dana.tobin@noaa.gov

Abstract

A unique polarimetric radar signature indicative of hydrometeor refreezing during ice pellet events has been documented in several recent studies, yet the underlying microphysical causes remain unknown. The signature is characterized by enhancements in differential reflectivity (ZDR), specific differential phase (KDP), and linear depolarization ratio (LDR), and a reduction in co-polar correlation coefficient (ρhv) within a layer of decreasing radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization (ZH). In previous studies, the leading hypothesis for the observed radar signature is the preferential refreezing of small drops. Here, a simplified, one-dimensional, explicit bin microphysics model is developed to simulate the refreezing of fully melted hydrometeors, and coupled with a polarimetric radar forward operator to quantify the impact of preferential refreezing on simulated radar signatures. The modeling results demonstrate that preferential refreezing is insufficient by itself to produce the observed signatures. In contrast, simulations considering an ice shell growing asymmetrically around a freezing particle (i.e., emulating a thicker ice shell on the bottom of a falling particle) produce realistic ZDR enhancements, and also closely replicate observed features in ZH, KDP, LDR, and ρhv. Simulations that assume no increase in particle wobbling with freezing produce an even greater ZDR enhancement, but this comes at the expense of reducing the LDR enhancement. It is suggested that the polarimetric refreezing signature is instead strongly related to both the distribution of the unfrozen liquid portion within a freezing particle, and the orientation of this liquid with respect to the horizontal.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Dana M. Tobin, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, OK, 73072. E-mail: dana.tobin@noaa.gov
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