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  • Author or Editor: Pierre Kirstetter x
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Marc Mandement
,
Pierre Kirstetter
, and
Heather Reeves

Abstract

The accuracy and uncertainty of radar echo-top heights estimated by ground-based radars remain largely unknown despite their critical importance for applications ranging from aviation weather forecasting to severe weather diagnosis. Because the vantage point of space is more suited than that of ground-based radars for the estimation of echo-top heights, the use of spaceborne radar observations is explored as an external reference for cross comparison. An investigation has been carried out across the conterminous United States by comparing the NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system with the space-based radar on board the NASA–JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement satellite platform. No major bias was assessed between the two products. An annual cycle of differences is found, driven by an underestimation of the stratiform cloud echo-top heights and an overestimation of the convective ones. The investigation of the systematic biases for different radar volume coverage patterns (VCP) shows that scanning strategies with fewer tilts and greater voids as VCP 21/121/221 contribute to overestimations observed for high MRMS tops. For VCP 12/212, the automated volume scan evaluation and termination (AVSET) function increases the radar cone of silence, causing overestimations when the echo top lies above the highest elevation scan. However, it seems that for low echo tops the shorter refresh rates contribute to mitigate underestimations, especially in stratiform cases.

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Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Hervé Andrieu
,
Brice Boudevillain
, and
Guy Delrieu

Abstract

The vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR) must be identified to correct estimations of rainfall rates by radar for the nonuniform beam filling associated with the vertical variation of radar reflectivity. A method for identifying VPRs from volumetric radar data is presented that takes into account the radar sampling. Physically based constraints on the vertical structure of rainfall are introduced with simple VPR models within a rainfall classification procedure defining more homogeneous precipitation patterns. The model parameters are identified in the framework of an extended Kalman filter to ensure their temporal consistency. The method is assessed using the dataset from a volume-scanning strategy for radar quantitative precipitation estimation designed in 2002 for the Bollène radar (France). The physical consistency of the retrieved VPR is evaluated. Positive results are obtained insofar as the physically based identified VPR (i) presents physically consistent shapes and characteristics considering beam effects, (ii) shows improved robustness in the difficult radar measurement context of the Cévennes–Vivarais region, and (iii) provides consistent physical insight into the rain field.

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Alessandro Battaglia
,
Kamil Mroz
,
Simone Tanelli
,
Frederic Tridon
, and
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter

Abstract

Evidence of multiple-scattering-induced pulse stretching for the signal of both frequencies of the Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) on the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission Core Observatory satellite is presented on the basis of collocated ground-based WSR-88D S-band observations of an extreme case: a tornadic supercell. The ground-based observations clearly show a tilted convective core with a so-called bounded weak-echo region—that is, locations where precipitation is absent or extremely light at the ground while large amounts of liquid or frozen precipitation are present aloft. The satellite observations in this region show reflectivity profiles that extend all the way to the surface despite the absence of near-surface precipitation: these are here referred to as “ghost echoes.” Furthermore, the Ku- and Ka-band profiles exhibit similar slopes, which is a typical sign that the observed power is almost entirely due to multiple scattering. A novel microphysical retrieval that is based on triple-frequency (S–Ku–Ka) observations shows that a dense ice core located between 4 and 14 km with particle sizes exceeding 2.5 cm and integrated ice contents exceeding 7.0 kg m−2 is the source of the ghost echoes of the signal in the lower layers. The level of confidence of this assessment is strengthened by the availability of the S-band data, which provide the necessary additional constraints to the radar retrieval that is based on DPR data. This study shows not only that multiple-scattering contributions may become predominant at Ka already very high up in the atmosphere but also that they play a key role at Ku band within the layers close to the surface. As a result, extreme caution must be paid even in the interpretation of Ku-based retrievals (e.g., the TRMM PR dataset or any DPR retrievals that are based on the assumption that Ku band is not affected by multiple scattering) when examining extreme surface rain rates that occur in the presence of deep dense ice layers.

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Guy Delrieu
,
Brice Boudevillain
,
John Nicol
,
Benoît Chapon
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Hervé Andrieu
, and
D. Faure

Abstract

The Bollène-2002 Experiment was aimed at developing the use of a radar volume-scanning strategy for conducting radar rainfall estimations in the mountainous regions of France. A developmental radar processing system, called Traitements Régionalisés et Adaptatifs de Données Radar pour l’Hydrologie (Regionalized and Adaptive Radar Data Processing for Hydrological Applications), has been built and several algorithms were specifically produced as part of this project. These algorithms include 1) a clutter identification technique based on the pulse-to-pulse variability of reflectivity Z for noncoherent radar, 2) a coupled procedure for determining a rain partition between convective and widespread rainfall R and the associated normalized vertical profiles of reflectivity, and 3) a method for calculating reflectivity at ground level from reflectivities measured aloft. Several radar processing strategies, including nonadaptive, time-adaptive, and space–time-adaptive variants, have been implemented to assess the performance of these new algorithms. Reference rainfall data were derived from a careful analysis of rain gauge datasets furnished by the Cévennes–Vivarais Mediterranean Hydrometeorological Observatory. The assessment criteria for five intense and long-lasting Mediterranean rain events have proven that good quantitative precipitation estimates can be obtained from radar data alone within 100-km range by using well-sited, well-maintained radar systems and sophisticated, physically based data-processing systems. The basic requirements entail performing accurate electronic calibration and stability verification, determining the radar detection domain, achieving efficient clutter elimination, and capturing the vertical structure(s) of reflectivity for the target event. Radar performance was shown to depend on type of rainfall, with better results obtained with deep convective rain systems (Nash coefficients of roughly 0.90 for point radar–rain gauge comparisons at the event time step), as opposed to shallow convective and frontal rain systems (Nash coefficients in the 0.6–0.8 range). In comparison with time-adaptive strategies, the space–time-adaptive strategy yields a very significant reduction in the radar–rain gauge bias while the level of scatter remains basically unchanged. Because the Z–R relationships have not been optimized in this study, results are attributed to an improved processing of spatial variations in the vertical profile of reflectivity. The two main recommendations for future work consist of adapting the rain separation method for radar network operations and documenting Z–R relationships conditional on rainfall type.

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James M. Kurdzo
,
Emily F. Joback
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
, and
John Y. N. Cho

Abstract

The relatively low density of weather radar networks can lead to low-altitude coverage gaps. As existing networks are evaluated for gap fillers and new networks are designed, the benefits of low-altitude coverage must be assessed quantitatively. This study takes a regression approach to modeling quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) differences based on network density, antenna aperture, and polarimetric bias. Thousands of cases from the warm-season months of May–August 2015–17 are processed using both the specific attenuation [R(A)] and reflectivity–differential reflectivity [R(Z, Z DR)] QPE methods and are compared with Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) rain gauge data. QPE errors are quantified on the basis of beam height, cross-radial resolution, added polarimetric bias, and observed rainfall rate. The collected data are used to construct a support vector machine regression model that is applied to the current WSR-88D network for holistic error quantification. An analysis of the effects of polarimetric bias on flash-flood rainfall rates is presented. Rainfall rates that are based on 2-yr/1-h return rates are used for a contiguous-U.S.-wide analysis of QPE errors in extreme rainfall situations. These errors are then requantified using previously proposed network design scenarios with additional radars that provide enhanced estimate capabilities. Last, a gap-filling scenario utilizing the QPE error model, flash-flood rainfall rates, population density, and potential additional WSR-88D sites is presented, exposing the highest-benefit coverage holes in augmenting the WSR-88D network (or a future network) relative to QPE performance.

Free access
Rémy Roca
,
Philippe Chambon
,
Isabelle Jobard
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Marielle Gosset
, and
Jean Claude Bergès

Abstract

Monsoon rainfall is central to the climate of West Africa, and understanding its variability is a challenge for which satellite rainfall products could be well suited to contribute to. Their quality in this region has received less attention than elsewhere. The focus is set on the scales associated with atmospheric variability, and a meteorological benchmark is set up with ground-based observations from the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) program. The investigation is performed at various scales of accumulation using four gauge networks. The seasonal cycle is analyzed using 10-day-averaged products, the synoptic-scale variability is analyzed using daily means, and the diurnal cycle of rainfall is analyzed at the seasonal scale using a composite and at the diurnal scale using 3-hourly accumulations. A novel methodology is introduced that accounts for the errors associated with the areal–time rainfall averages. The errors from both satellite and ground rainfall data are computed using dedicated techniques that come down to an estimation of the sampling errors associated to these measurements. The results show that the new generation of combined infrared–microwave (IR–MW) satellite products is describing the rain variability similarly to ground measurements. At the 10-day scale, all products reveal high regional and seasonal skills. The day-to-day comparison indicates that some products perform better than others, whereas all of them exhibit high skills when the spectral band of African easterly waves is considered. The seasonal variability of the diurnal scale as well as its relative daily importance is only captured by some products. Plans for future extensive intercomparison exercises are briefly discussed.

Full access
Qing Cao
,
Yang Hong
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Youcun Qi
,
Jian Zhang
,
Yixin Wen
, and
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter

Abstract

This study presents a statistical analysis of the vertical structure of precipitation measured by NASA–Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) in the region of southern California, Arizona, and western New Mexico, where the ground-based Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) network finds difficulties in accurately measuring surface precipitation because of beam blockages by complex terrain. This study has applied TRMM PR version-7 products 2A23 and 2A25 from 1 January 2000 to 26 October 2011. The seasonal, spatial, intensity-related, and type-related variabilities are characterized for the PR vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR) as well as the heights of storm, freezing level, and bright band. The intensification and weakening of reflectivity at low levels in the VPR are studied through fitting physically based VPR slopes. Major findings include the following: precipitation type is the most significant factor determining the characteristics of VPRs, the shape of VPRs also influences the intensity of surface rainfall rates, the characteristics of VPRs have a seasonal dependence with strong similarities between the spring and autumn months, and the spatial variation of VPR characteristics suggests that the underlying terrain has an impact on the vertical structure. The comprehensive statistical and physical analysis strengthens the understanding of the vertical structure of precipitation and advocates for the approach of VPR correction to improve surface precipitation estimation in complex terrain.

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