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Robert Meneghini, Hyokyung Kim, Liang Liao, Jeffrey A. Jones, and John M. Kwiatkowski

Abstract

It has long been recognized that path-integrated attenuation (PIA) can be used to improve precipitation estimates from high-frequency weather radar data. One approach that provides an estimate of this quantity from airborne or spaceborne radar data is the surface reference technique (SRT), which uses measurements of the surface cross section in the presence and absence of precipitation. Measurements from the dual-frequency precipitation radar (DPR) on the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite afford the first opportunity to test the method for spaceborne radar data at Ka band as well as for the Ku-band–Ka-band combination.

The study begins by reviewing the basis of the single- and dual-frequency SRT. As the performance of the method is closely tied to the behavior of the normalized radar cross section (NRCS or σ0) of the surface, the statistics of σ0 derived from DPR measurements are given as a function of incidence angle and frequency for ocean and land backgrounds over a 1-month period. Several independent estimates of the PIA, formed by means of different surface reference datasets, can be used to test the consistency of the method since, in the absence of error, the estimates should be identical. Along with theoretical considerations, the comparisons provide an initial assessment of the performance of the single- and dual-frequency SRT for the DPR. The study finds that the dual-frequency SRT can provide improvement in the accuracy of path attenuation estimates relative to the single-frequency method, particularly at Ku band.

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