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Mampi Sarkar, Paquita Zuidema, and Virendra Ghate


Precipitation is a key process within the shallow cloud life cycle. The Cloud System Evolution in the Trades (CSET) campaign included the first deployment of a 94-GHz Doppler radar and 532-nm lidar. Despite a larger sampling volume, initial mean radar/lidar-retrieved rain rates based on the upward-pointing remote sensor datasets are systematically less than those measured by in situ precipitation probes in the cumulus regime. Subsequent retrieval improvements produce rain rates that compare better to in situ values but still underestimate them. Retrieved shallow cumulus drop sizes can remain too small and too few, with an overestimated shape parameter narrowing the raindrop size distribution too much. Three potential causes for the discrepancy are explored: the gamma functional fit to the drop size distribution, attenuation by rain and cloud water, and an underaccounting of Mie dampening of the reflectivity. A truncated exponential fit may represent the drop sizes below a showering cumulus cloud more realistically, although further work would be needed to fully evaluate the impact of a different drop size representation upon the retrieval. The rain attenuation is within the measurement uncertainty of the radar. Mie dampening of the reflectivity is shown to be significant, in contrast to previous stratocumulus campaigns with lighter rain rates, and may be difficult to constrain well with the remote measurements. An alternative approach combines an a priori determination of the drop size distribution width based on the in situ data with the mean radar Doppler velocity and reflectivity. This can produce realistic retrievals, although a more comprehensive assessment is needed to better characterize the retrieval errors.

Restricted access
Jothiram Vivekanandan, Virendra P. Ghate, Jorgen B. Jensen, Scott M. Ellis, and M. Christian Schwartz


This paper describes a technique for estimating the liquid water content (LWC) and a characteristic particle diameter in stratocumulus clouds using radar and lidar observations. The uncertainty in LWC estimate from radar and lidar measurements is significantly reduced once the characteristic particle diameter is known. The technique is independent of the drop size distribution. It is applicable for a broad range of W-band reflectivity Z between −30 and 0 dBZ and all values of lidar backscatter β observations. No partitioning of cloud or drizzle is required on the basis of an arbitrary threshold of Z as in prior studies. A method for estimating droplet diameter and LWC was derived from the electromagnetic simulations of radar and lidar observations. In situ stratocumulus cloud and drizzle probe spectra were input to the electromagnetic simulation. The retrieved droplet diameter and LWC were validated using in situ measurements from the southeastern Pacific Ocean. The retrieval method was applied to radar and lidar measurements from the northeastern Pacific. Uncertainty in the retrieved droplet diameter and LWC that are due to the measurement errors in radar and lidar backscatter measurements are 7% and 14%, respectively. The retrieved LWC was validated using the concurrent G-band radiometer estimates of the liquid water path.

Open access
M. Christian Schwartz, Virendra P. Ghate, Bruce. A. Albrecht, Paquita Zuidema, Maria P. Cadeddu, Jothiram Vivekanandan, Scott M. Ellis, Pei Tsai, Edwin W. Eloranta, Johannes Mohrmann, Robert Wood, and Christopher S. Bretherton


The Cloud System Evolution in the Trades (CSET) aircraft campaign was conducted in the summer of 2015 in the northeast Pacific to observe the transition from stratocumulus to cumulus cloud regime. Fourteen transects were made between Sacramento, California, and Kona, Hawaii, using the NCAR’s High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) Gulfstream V (GV) aircraft. The HIAPER W-band Doppler cloud radar (HCR) and the high-spectral-resolution lidar (HSRL), in their first deployment together on board the GV, provided crucial cloud and precipitation observations. The HCR recorded the raw in-phase (I) and quadrature (Q) components of the digitized signal, from which the Doppler spectra and its first three moments were calculated. HCR/HSRL data were merged to develop a hydrometeor mask on a uniform georeferenced grid of 2-Hz temporal and 20-m vertical resolutions. The hydrometeors are classified as cloud or precipitation using a simple fuzzy logic technique based on the HCR mean Doppler velocity, HSRL backscatter, and the ratio of HCR reflectivity to HSRL backscatter. This is primarily applied during zenith-pointing conditions under which the lidar can detect the cloud base and the radar is more sensitive to clouds. The microphysical properties of below-cloud drizzle and optically thin clouds were retrieved using the HCR reflectivity, HSRL backscatter, and the HCR Doppler spectrum width after it is corrected for the aircraft speed. These indicate that as the boundary layers deepen and cloud-top heights increase toward the equator, both the cloud and rain fractions decrease.

Open access