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Yefim L. Kogan, Zena N. Kogan, and David B. Mechem


The errors of formulations of cloud retrievals based on radar reflectivity, mean Doppler velocity, and Doppler spectrum width are evaluated under the controlled framework of the Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs). Cloud radar parameters are obtained from drop size distributions generated by the high-resolution Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) large-eddy simulation (LES) model with explicit microphysics. It is shown that in drizzling stratocumulus the accuracy of cloud liquid water (Ql) retrieval can be substantially increased when information on Doppler velocity or Doppler spectrum width is included in addition to radar reflectivity. In the moderate drizzle case (drizzle rate R of about 1 mm day−1) the mean and standard deviation of errors is of the order of 10% for Ql values larger than 0.2 g m−3; in stratocumulus with heavy drizzle (R > 2 mm day−1) these values are approximately 20%–30%. Similarly, employing Doppler radar parameters significantly improves the accuracy of drizzle flux retrieval. The use of Doppler spectrum width σd instead of Doppler velocity yields about the same accuracy, thus demonstrating that both Doppler parameters have approximately the same potential for improving microphysical retrievals. It is noted that the error estimates herein represent the theoretical lower bound on retrieval errors, because the actual errors will inevitably increase, first and foremost, due to uncertainties in estimation contributions from air turbulence.

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