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Wesley Berg
,
Tristan L’Ecuyer
, and
John M. Haynes

Abstract

A combination of rainfall estimates from the 13.8-GHz Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) and the 94-GHz CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) is used to assess the distribution of rainfall intensity over tropical and subtropical oceans. These two spaceborne radars provide highly complementary information: the PR provides the best information on the total rain volume because of its ability to estimate the intensity of all but the lightest rain rates while the CPR’s higher sensitivity provides superior rainfall detection as well as estimates of drizzle and light rain. Over the TRMM region between 35°S and 35°N, rainfall frequency from the CPR is around 9%, approximately 2.5 times that detected by the PR, and the CPR estimates indicate a contribution by light rain that is undetected by the PR of around 10% of the total. Stratifying the results by total precipitable water (TPW) as a proxy for rainfall regime indicates dramatic differences over stratus-dominated subsidence regions, with nearly 20% of the total rain occurring as light rain. Over moist tropical regions, the CPR substantially underestimates rain from intense convective storms because of large attenuation and multiple-scattering effects while the PR misses very little of the total rain volume because of a lower relative contribution from light rain. Over low-TPW regions, however, inconsistencies between estimates from the PR and the CPR point to uncertainties in the algorithm assumptions that remain to be understood and addressed.

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Wesley Berg
,
Tristan L’Ecuyer
, and
John M. Haynes
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Cristian Mitrescu
,
Tristan L’Ecuyer
,
John Haynes
,
Steven Miller
, and
Joseph Turk

Abstract

Identifying and quantifying the intensity of light precipitation at global scales is still a difficult problem for most of the remote sensing algorithms in use today. The variety of techniques and algorithms employed for such a task yields a rather wide spectrum of possible values for a given precipitation event, further hampering the understanding of cloud processes within the climate. The ability of CloudSat’s millimeter-wavelength Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) to profile not only cloud particles but also light precipitation brings some hope to the above problems. Introduced as version zero, the present work uses basic concepts of detection and retrieval of light precipitation using spaceborne radars. Based on physical principles of remote sensing, the radar model relies on the description of clouds and rain particles in terms of a drop size distribution function. Use of a numerical model temperature and humidity profile ensures the coexistence of mixed phases otherwise undetected by the CPR. It also provides grounds for evaluating atmospheric attenuation, important at this frequency. Related to the total attenuation, the surface response is used as an additional constraint in the retrieval algorithm. Practical application of the profiling algorithm includes a 1-yr preliminary analysis of global rainfall incidence and intensity. These results underscore once more the role of CloudSat rainfall products for improving and enhancing current estimates of global light rainfall, mostly at higher latitudes, with the goal of understanding its role in the global energy and water cycle.

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Steven D. Miller
,
John M. Forsythe
,
Philip T. Partain
,
John M. Haynes
,
Richard L. Bankert
,
Manajit Sengupta
,
Cristian Mitrescu
,
Jeffrey D. Hawkins
, and
Thomas H. Vonder Haar

Abstract

The launch of the NASA CloudSat in April 2006 enabled the first satellite-based global observation of vertically resolved cloud information. However, CloudSat’s nonscanning W-band (94 GHz) Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) provides only a nadir cross section, or “curtain,” of the atmosphere along the satellite ground track, precluding a full three-dimensional (3D) characterization and thus limiting its utility for certain model verification and cloud-process studies. This paper details an algorithm for extending a limited set of vertically resolved cloud observations to form regional 3D cloud structure. Predicated on the assumption that clouds of the same type (e.g., cirrus, cumulus, and stratocumulus) often share geometric and microphysical properties as well, the algorithm identifies cloud-type-dependent correlations and uses them to estimate cloud-base height and liquid/ice water content vertical structure. These estimates, when combined with conventional retrievals of cloud-top height, result in a 3D structure for the topmost cloud layer. The technique was developed on multiyear CloudSat data and applied to Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) swath data from the NASA Aqua satellite. Data-exclusion experiments along the CloudSat ground track show improved predictive skill over both climatology and type-independent nearest-neighbor estimates. More important, the statistical methods, which employ a dynamic range-dependent weighting scheme, were also found to outperform type-dependent near-neighbor estimates. Application to the 3D cloud rendering of a tropical cyclone is demonstrated.

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