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  • The Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) x
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Andrew Heymsfield
,
Aaron Bansemer
,
Gerald Heymsfield
,
David Noone
,
Mircea Grecu
, and
Darin Toohey

Abstract

Coincident radar data with Doppler radar measurements at X, Ku, Ka, and W bands on the NASA ER-2 aircraft overflying the NASA P-3 aircraft acquiring in situ microphysical measurements are used to characterize the relationship between radar measurements and ice microphysical properties. The data were obtained from the Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS). Direct measurements of the condensed water content and coincident Doppler radar measurements were acquired, facilitating improved estimates of ice particle mass, a variable that is an underlying factor for calculating and therefore retrieving the radar reflectivity Ze , median mass diameter Dm , particle terminal velocity, and snowfall rate S. The relationship between the measured ice water content (IWC) and that calculated from the particle size distributions (PSDs) using relationships developed in earlier studies, and between the calculated and measured radar reflectivity at the four radar wavelengths, are quantified. Relationships are derived between the measured IWC and properties of the PSD, Dm , Ze at the four radar wavelengths, and the dual-wavelength ratio. Because IWC and Ze are measured directly, the coefficients in the mass–dimensional relationship that best match both the IWC and Ze are derived. The relationships developed here, and the mass–dimensional relationship that uses both the measured IWC and Ze to find a best match for both variables, can be used in studies that characterize the properties of wintertime snow clouds.

Significance Statement

The goal of this study is to provide reliable microphysical measurements and algorithms to facilitate improvements in cloud model microphysical parameterizations and in retrieval of snow precipitation properties from spaceborne active remote sensors and to characterize ice and snow precipitation development within clouds. This work draws upon a unique set of in situ measurements of the ice and total water content coupled with overflying aircraft radar measurements at four radar wavelengths. Better estimates of the contributions of the ice phase to the total global precipitation using spaceborne radar data pave the way for assessing and advancing global climate modeling, thereby strengthening predictions of global climate change.

Free access
Edwin L. Dunnavan
,
Jacob T. Carlin
,
Jiaxi Hu
,
Petar Bukovčić
,
Alexander V. Ryzhkov
,
Greg M. McFarquhar
,
Joseph A. Finlon
,
Sergey Y. Matrosov
, and
David J. Delene

Abstract

This study evaluates ice particle size distribution and aspect ratio φ Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) dual-polarization radar retrievals through a direct comparison with two legs of observational aircraft data obtained during a winter storm case from the Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) campaign. In situ cloud probes, satellite, and MRMS observations illustrate that the often-observed K dp and Z DR enhancement regions in the dendritic growth layer can either indicate a local number concentration increase of dry ice particles or the presence of ice particles mixed with a significant number of supercooled liquid droplets. Relative to in situ measurements, MRMS retrievals on average underestimated mean volume diameters by 50% and overestimated number concentrations by over 100%. IWC retrievals using Z DR and K dp within the dendritic growth layer were minimally biased relative to in situ calculations where retrievals yielded −2% median relative error for the entire aircraft leg. Incorporating φ retrievals decreased both the magnitude and spread of polarimetric retrievals below the dendritic growth layer. While φ radar retrievals suggest that observed dendritic growth layer particles were nonspherical (0.1 ≤ φ ≤ 0.2), in situ projected aspect ratios, idealized numerical simulations, and habit classifications from cloud probe images suggest that the population mean φ was generally much higher. Coordinated aircraft radar reflectivity with in situ observations suggests that the MRMS systematically underestimated reflectivity and could not resolve local peaks in mean volume diameter sizes. These results highlight the need to consider particle assumptions and radar limitations when performing retrievals.

significance statement

Developing snow is often detectable using weather radars. Meteorologists combine these radar measurements with mathematical equations to study how snow forms in order to determine how much snow will fall. This study evaluates current methods for estimating the total number and mass, sizes, and shapes of snowflakes from radar using images of individual snowflakes taken during two aircraft legs. Radar estimates of snowflake properties were most consistent with aircraft data inside regions with prominent radar signatures. However, radar estimates of snowflake shapes were not consistent with observed shapes estimated from the snowflake images. Although additional research is needed, these results bolster understanding of snow-growth physics and uncertainties between radar measurements and snow production that can improve future snowfall forecasting.

Free access
Randy J. Chase
,
Stephen W. Nesbitt
,
Greg M. McFarquhar
,
Norman B. Wood
, and
Gerald M. Heymsfield

Abstract

Two spaceborne radars currently in orbit enable the sampling of snowfall near the surface and throughout the atmospheric column, namely, CloudSat’s Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission’s Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (GPM-DPR). In this paper, a direct comparison of the CPR’s 2C-SNOW-PROFILE (2CSP), the operational GPM-DPR algorithm (2ADPR) and a neural network (NN) retrieval applied to the GPM-DPR data is performed using coincident observations between both radars. Examination of over 3500 profiles within moderate to strong precipitation (Ka band ≥ 18 dBZ) show that the NN retrieval provides the closest retrieval of liquid equivalent precipitation rate R immediately above the melting level to the R retrieved just below the melting layer, agreeing within 5%. Meanwhile, 2CSP retrieves a maximum value of R at −15°C, decreases by 35% just above the melting layer, and is about 50% smaller than the GPM-DPR retrieved R below the melting layer. CPR-measured reflectivity shows median reduction of 2–3 dB from −15° to −2.5°C, likely the reason for the 2CSP retrieval reduction of R. Two case studies from NASA field campaigns [i.e., Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX) and Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS)] provide analogs to the type of precipitating systems found in the comparison between retrieval products. For the snowfall events that GPM-DPR can observe, this work suggests that the 2CSP retrieval is likely underestimating the unattenuated reflectivity, resulting in a potential negative, or low, bias in R. Future work should investigate how frequently the underestimated reflectivity profiles occur within the CPR record and quantify its potential effects on global snowfall accumulation estimation.

Free access
George Duffy
and
Derek J. Posselt

Abstract

In this study, we investigate the tendencies of gamma parameters for particle size distributions (PSDs) containing snowflake aggregates in orographic, convective, and stratiform clouds, above snowstorms and above rainstorms, in temperatures ranging from 0° to −45°C. We find a strong relationship between μ and Λ but no dependence on temperature. Higher μ are observed during the experiments sampling winter snowstorms, and lower μ are observed during experiments sampling frozen clouds above convective and orographic storms. We find that a gamma function with a μ of −1.25 provides the best average representation of PSD shape and the most accurate representation of PSD moments related to mass and reflectivity. We also provide a lookup table of maximum particle size boundaries that can be used to parameterize incomplete gamma functions with negative μ values.

Significance Statement

In many weather models and satellite retrieval algorithms, frozen clouds and precipitation are governed by the same assumptions even though they develop through different growth processes. This paper provides recommendations for snowflake aggregate size distributions that reflect natural conditions, and these recommended assumptions are demonstrated to improve estimates of mass and radar reflectivity. We studied a variety of storms, such as thunderstorms, snow storms, and winter rainstorms, and we found that our model for snowflake aggregates was nearly identical in all observed conditions.

Free access