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Stephen R. Guimond
,
Lin Tian
,
Gerald M. Heymsfield
, and
Stephen J. Frasier

Abstract

Algorithms for the retrieval of atmospheric winds in precipitating systems from downward-pointing, conically scanning airborne Doppler radars are presented. The focus is on two radars: the Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (IWRAP) and the High-Altitude IWRAP (HIWRAP). The IWRAP is a dual-frequency (C and Ku bands), multibeam (incidence angles of 30°–50°) system that flies on the NOAA WP-3D aircraft at altitudes of 2–4 km. The HIWRAP is a dual-frequency (Ku and Ka bands), dual-beam (incidence angles of 30° and 40°) system that flies on the NASA Global Hawk aircraft at altitudes of 18–20 km.

Retrievals of the three Cartesian wind components over the entire radar sampling volume are described, which can be determined using either a traditional least squares or variational solution procedure. The random errors in the retrievals due to the airborne radar geometry and noise in the Doppler velocities are evaluated using both an error propagation analysis with least squares theory and a numerical simulation of a hurricane. These analyses show that the vertical and along-track wind errors have strong across-track dependence with values ranging from 0.25 m s−1 at nadir to 2.0 and 1.0 m s−1 at the swath edges, respectively. The average across-track wind errors are ~2.5 m s−1 or 7% of the hurricane wind speed. For typical rotated figure-four flight patterns through hurricanes, the zonal and meridional wind speed errors are ~1.5–2.0 m s−1. Evaluations of both retrieval methods show that the variational procedure is generally preferable to the least squares procedure.

Examples of measured data retrievals from IWRAP during an eyewall replacement cycle in Hurricane Isabel (2003) and from HIWRAP during the development of Tropical Storm Matthew (2010) are shown. Comparisons of IWRAP-measured data retrievals at nadir to flight-level data show errors of ~2.0 m s−1 for vertical winds and ~4.0 m s−1 for horizontal wind speed (~7% of the hurricane wind speed). Additional sources of error, such as hydrometeor fall speed uncertainties and a small height offset in the comparisons, are likely responsible for the larger vertical wind errors when compared to the simulated error analyses.

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