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  • Hydrology in Earth System Science and Society (HESSS) x
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Sante Laviola, Agata Moscatello, Mario Marcello Miglietta, Elsa Cattani, and Vincenzo Levizzani

Abstract

Two heavy rain events over the Central Mediterranean basin, which are markedly different by genesis, dimensions, duration, and intensity, are analyzed. Given the relative low frequency of this type of severe storms in the area, a synoptic analysis describing their development is included. A multispectral analysis based on geostationary multifrequency satellite images is applied to identify cloud type, hydrometeor phase, and cloud vertical extension. Precipitation intensity is retrieved from (i) surface rain gauges, (ii) satellite data, and (iii) numerical model simulations. The satellite precipitation retrieval algorithm 183-Water vapor Strong Lines (183-WSL) is used to retrieve rain rates and cloud hydrometeor type, classify stratiform and convective rainfall, and identify liquid water clouds and snow cover from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-B (AMSU-B) sensor data. Rainfall intensity is also simulated with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) numerical model over two nested domains with horizontal resolutions of 16 km (comparable to that of the satellite sensor AMSU-B) and 4 km. The statistical analysis of the comparison between satellite retrievals and model simulations demonstrates the skills of both methods for the identification of the main characteristics of the cloud systems with a suggested overall bias of the model toward very low rain intensities. WRF (in the version used for the experiment) seems to classify as low rain intensity regions those areas where the 183-WSL retrieves no precipitation while sensing a mixture of freshly nucleated cloud droplets and a large amount of water vapor; in these areas, especially adjacent to the rain clouds, large amounts of cloud liquid water are detected. The satellite method performs reasonably well in reproducing the wide range of gauge-detected precipitation intensities. A comparison of the 183-WSL retrievals with gauge measurements demonstrates the skills of the algorithm in discriminating between convective and stratiform precipitation using the scattering and absorption of radiation by the hydrometeors.

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