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Gail Skofronick-Jackson, David Hudak, Walter Petersen, Stephen W. Nesbitt, V. Chandrasekar, Stephen Durden, Kirstin J. Gleicher, Gwo-Jong Huang, Paul Joe, Pavlos Kollias, Kimberly A. Reed, Mathew R. Schwaller, Ronald Stewart, Simone Tanelli, Ali Tokay, James R. Wang, and Mengistu Wolde

Abstract

As a component of Earth’s hydrologic cycle, and especially at higher latitudes, falling snow creates snowpack accumulation that in turn provides a large proportion of the freshwater resources required by many communities throughout the world. To assess the relationships between remotely sensed snow measurements with in situ measurements, a winter field project, termed the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Cold Season Precipitation Experiment (GCPEx), was carried out in the winter of 2011/12 in Ontario, Canada. Its goal was to provide information on the precipitation microphysics and processes associated with cold season precipitation to support GPM snowfall retrieval algorithms that make use of a dual-frequency precipitation radar and a passive microwave imager on board the GPM core satellite and radiometers on constellation member satellites. Multiparameter methods are required to be able to relate changes in the microphysical character of the snow to measureable parameters from which precipitation detection and estimation can be based. The data collection strategy was coordinated, stacked, high-altitude, and in situ cloud aircraft missions with three research aircraft sampling within a broader surface network of five ground sites that in turn were taking in situ and volumetric observations. During the field campaign 25 events were identified and classified according to their varied precipitation type, synoptic context, and precipitation amount. Herein, the GCPEx field campaign is described and three illustrative cases detailed.

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