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G. M. Heymsfield, B. Geerts, and L. Tian

Abstract

Orbital Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) products are evaluated by simultaneous comparisons with high-resolution data from the high-altitude ER-2 Doppler radar (EDOP) and ground-based radars. The purpose is not to calibrate any radar or to validate surface rainfall estimates, but rather to evaluate the vertical reflectivity structure, which is important in TRMM rain-type classification and estimation of latent heating profiles. The radars used in this study have considerably different viewing geometries and resolutions, demanding nontrivial mapping procedures in common earth-relative coordinates. Mapped vertical cross sections and mean profiles of reflectivity from the PR, EDOP, and ground-based radars are compared for six cases. These cases cover a stratiform frontal rainband, convective cells of various sizes and stages, and a hurricane.

For precipitating systems larger than the PR footprint size, PR reflectivity profiles compare very well with high-resolution measurements thresholded to the PR minimum reflectivity, and derived variables such as brightband height and rain types are accurate, even at off-nadir PR scan angles. Convective rainfall is marked by high-horizontal reflectivity gradients; therefore its reflectivity distribution is spread out because of the PR antenna illumination pattern and by nonuniform beamfilling effects. In these cases, rain-type classification may err and be biased toward the stratiform type, and the average reflectivity tends to be underestimated. The limited sensitivity of the PR implies that large portions of the upper regions of precipitation systems remain undetected. This implication applies to all cases, but the discrepancy is larger for smaller cells for which limited sensitivity is compounded by incomplete beamfilling. These findings have important implications for gridded TRMM products such as monthly mean rainfall.

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R. Meneghini, L. Liao, and G. M. Heymsfield

Abstract

An important objective in scatterometry is the estimation of near-surface wind speed and direction in the presence of rain. We investigate an attenuation correction method using data from the High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (HIWRAP) dual-frequency scatterometer, which operates at Ku and Ka band with dual conical scans at incidence angles of 30° and 40°. The method relies on the fact that the differential normalized surface cross section, δσ 0 = σ 0(Ka) − σ 0(Ku), is relatively insensitive to wind speed and direction and that this quantity is closely related to the magnitude of the differential path attenuation, δA = A(Ka) − A(Ku), arising from precipitation, cloud, and atmospheric gases. As the method relies only on the difference between quantities measured in the presence and absence of rain, the estimates are independent of radar calibration error. As a test of the method’s accuracy, we make use of the fact that the radar rain reflectivities just above the surface, as seen along different incidence angles, are approximately the same. This yields constraint equations in the form of differences between pairs of path attenuations along different lines of sight to the surface. A second validation method uses the dual-frequency radar returns from the rain just above the surface where it can be shown that the difference between the Ku- and Ka-band-measured radar reflectivity factors provide an estimate of differential path attenuation. Comparisons between the path attenuations derived from the normalized surface cross section and those from these surface-independent methods generally show good agreement.

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R. Meneghini, L. Liao, and G. M. Heymsfield

Abstract

The High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (HIWRAP) dual-frequency conically scanning airborne radar provides estimates of the range-profiled mean Doppler and backscattered power from the precipitation and surface. A velocity–azimuth display analysis yields near-surface estimates of the mean horizontal wind vector υ h in cases in which precipitation is present throughout the scan. From the surface return, the normalized radar cross section (NRCS) is obtained, which, by a method previously described, can be corrected for path attenuation. Comparisons between υ h and the attenuation-corrected NRCS are used to derive transfer functions that provide estimates of the wind vector from the NRCS data under both rain and rain-free conditions. A reasonably robust transfer function is found by using the mean NRCS (⟨NRCS⟩) over the scan along with a filtering of the data based on a Fourier series analysis of υ h and the NRCS. The approach gives good correlation coefficients between υ h and ⟨NRCS⟩ at Ku band at incidence angles of 30° and 40°. The correlation degrades if the Ka-band data are used rather than the Ku band.

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Lin Tian, G. M. Heymsfield, and R. C. Srivastava

Abstract

Observations by the airborne X-band Doppler radar (known as EDOP) and the NCAR S-band polarimetric (S-Pol) radar from two field experiments are used to evaluate the surface reference technique (SRT) for measuring the path-integrated attenuation (PIA) and to study attenuation in deep convective storms. The EDOP, flying at an altitude of 20 km, uses a nadir beam and a forward-pointing beam. It is found that over land the surface scattering cross section is highly variable at nadir incidence but is relatively stable at forward incidence. It is concluded that measurement by the forward beam provides a viable technique for measuring PIA using the SRT. Vertical profiles of peak attenuation coefficient are derived in two deep convective storms by the dual-wavelength method. Using the measured Doppler velocity, the reflectivities at the two wavelengths, the differential reflectivity, and the estimated attenuation coefficients, it is shown that supercooled drops and (dry) ice particles probably coexisted above the melting level in regions of updraft and that water-coated partially melted ice particles probably contributed to high attenuation below the melting level.

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G. M. Heymsfield, J. B. Halverson, and I. J. Caylor

Abstract

An extensive wintertime squall line on 13 January 1995 occurring along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coastline is examined using airborne radar observations combined with conventional data analysis. Flight tracks with the ER-2 Doppler radar (EDOP) mounted on the high-altitude (20 km) ER-2 aircraft provided a unique view of the vertical structure of this line. In this paper, the authors document the squall line structure, and compare and contrast this structure with other published cases.

The squall line had several prominent features that differ from previous studies: 1) the stratiform region was wide in comparison to more typical systems that are 50–100 km wide; 2) the trailing stratiform region consisted of two to three separate embedded trailing bands rather than one continuous band; 3) vertical motions in the trailing stratiform region were nearly twice as strong as previously reported values, with mean values approaching 1 m s−1 between 7- and 9-km altitude, and larger values (1.5 m s−1) in the embedded bands; 4) reflectivities were large with mean stratiform values of about 38 dBZ, and maximum convective values of about 55 dBZ; 5) the squall line rear inflow descended to the surface well behind the leading edge (∼200 km); 6) the convective and squall line inflow region exhibited unique microphysics with small graupel or hail falling out of the tilted squall line updraft, and a wavy, elevated melting region associated with the inflow; and 7) the squall-scale transverse circulation was directly coupled with a jet streak thermally direct circulation, and the ascending branch of this direct circulation may have enhanced production of widespread stratiform rainfall. A conceptual model is presented highlighting the features of this squall line and the coupling of the squall line to the larger-scale flow.

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I. J. Caylor, G. M. Heymsfield, R. Meneghini, and L. S. Miller

Abstract

The return from the ocean surface has a number of uses for airborne meteorological radar. The normalized surface cross section has been used for radar system calibration, estimation of surface winds, and in algorithms for estimating the path-integrated attenuation in rain. However, meteorological radars are normally optimized for observation of distributed targets that fill the resolution volume, and so a point target such as the surface can be poorly sampled, particularly at near-nadir look angles. Sampling the nadir surface return at an insufficient rate results in a negative bias of the estimated cross section. This error is found to be as large as 4 dB using observations from a high-altitude airborne radar. An algorithm for mitigating the error is developed that is based upon the shape of the surface echo and uses the returned signal at the three range gates nearest the peak surface echo.

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G. M. Heymsfield, Joanne Simpson, J. Halverson, L. Tian, E. Ritchie, and J. Molinari

Abstract

Tropical Storm Chantal during August 2001 was a storm that failed to intensify over the few days prior to making landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula. An observational study of Tropical Storm Chantal is presented using a diverse dataset including remote and in situ measurements from the NASA ER-2 and DC-8 and the NOAA WP-3D N42RF aircraft and satellite. The authors discuss the storm structure from the larger-scale environment down to the convective scale. Large vertical shear (850–200-hPa shear magnitude range 8–15 m s−1) plays a very important role in preventing Chantal from intensifying. The storm had a poorly defined vortex that only extended up to 5–6-km altitude, and an adjacent intense convective region that comprised a mesoscale convective system (MCS). The entire low-level circulation center was in the rain-free western side of the storm, about 80 km to the west-southwest of the MCS. The MCS appears to have been primarily the result of intense convergence between large-scale, low-level easterly flow with embedded downdrafts, and the cyclonic vortex flow. The individual cells in the MCS such as cell 2 during the period of the observations were extremely intense, with reflectivity core diameters of 10 km and peak updrafts exceeding 20 m s−1. Associated with this MCS were two broad subsidence (warm) regions, both of which had portions over the vortex. The first layer near 700 hPa was directly above the vortex and covered most of it. The second layer near 500 hPa was along the forward and right flanks of cell 2 and undercut the anvil divergence region above. There was not much resemblance of these subsidence layers to typical upper-level warm cores in hurricanes that are necessary to support strong surface winds and a low central pressure. The observations are compared to previous studies of weakly sheared storms and modeling studies of shear effects and intensification.

The configuration of the convective updrafts, low-level circulation, and lack of vertical coherence between the upper- and lower-level warming regions likely inhibited intensification of Chantal. This configuration is consistent with modeled vortices in sheared environments, which suggest the strongest convection and rain in the downshear left quadrant of the storm, and subsidence in the upshear right quadrant. The vertical shear profile is, however, different from what was assumed in previous modeling in that the winds are strongest in the lowest levels and the deep tropospheric vertical shear is on the order of 10–12 m s−1.

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Paul R. Field, Andrew J. Heymsfield, Andrew G. Detwiler, and Jonathan M. Wilkinson

Abstract

Hail and graupel are linked to lightning production and are important components of cloud evolution. Hail can also cause significant damage when it precipitates to the surface. The accurate prediction of the amount and location of hail and graupel and the effects on the other hydrometeor species depends upon the size distribution assumed. Here, we use ~310 km of in situ observations from flights of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology T-28 storm-penetrating aircraft to constrain the representation of the particle size distribution (PSD) of hail. The maximum ~1-km hail water content encountered was 9 g m−3. Optical probe PSD measurements are normalized using two-moment normalization relations to obtain an underlying exponential shape. By linking the two normalizing moments through a power law, a parameterization of the hail PSD is provided based on the hail water content only. Preliminary numerical weather simulations indicate that the new parameterization produces increased radar reflectivity relative to commonly used PSD representations.

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P. R. A. Brown, A. J. Illingworth, A. J. Heymsfield, G. M. McFarquhar, K. A. Browning, and M. Gosset

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to assess the potential of a spaceborne 94-GHz radar for providing useful measurements of the vertical distribution and water content of ice clouds on a global scale.

Calculations of longwave (LW) fluxes for a number of model ice clouds are performed. These are used to determine the minimum cloud optical depth that will cause changes in the outgoing longwave radiation or flux divergence within a cloud layer greatear than 10 W m−2, and in surface downward LW flux greater than 5 W m−2, compared to the clear-sky value. These optical depth values are used as the definition of a “radiatively significant” cloud. Different “thresholds of radiative significance” are calculated for each of the three radiation parameters and also for tropical and midlatitude cirrus clouds. Extensive observational datasets of ice crystal size spectra from midlatitude and tropical cirrus are then used to assess the capability of a radar to meet these measurement requirements. A radar with a threshold of −30 dBZ should detect 99% (92%) of “radiatively significant” clouds in the midlatitudes (Tropics). This detection efficiency may be reduced significantly for tropical clouds at very low temperatures (−80°C).

The LW flux calculations are also used to establish the required accuracy within which the optical depth should be known in order to estimate LW fluxes or flux divergence to within specified limits of accuracy. Accuracy requirements are also expressed in terms of ice water content (IWC) because of the need to validate cloud parameterization schemes in general circulation models (GCMs). Estimates of IWC derived using radar alone and also using additional information to define the mean crystal size are considered. With crystal size information available, the IWC for samples with a horizontal scale of 1–2 km may be obtained with a bias of less than 8%. For IWC larger than 0.01 g m−3, the random error is in the range +50% to −35%, whereas for a value of 0.001 g m−3 the random error increases to between +80% and −45%. This level of accuracy also represents the best that may be achieved for estimates of the cloud optical depth and meets the requirements derived from LW flux calculations. In the absence of independent particle size information, the random error is within the range +85% to −55% for IWC greater than 0.01 g m−3. For the same IWC range, the estimated bias is few than ±15%. This accuracy is sufficient to provide useful constraints on GCM cloud parameteriation schemes.

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G. M. Heymsfield, J. M. Shepherd, S. W. Bidwell, W. C. Boncyk, I. J. Caylor, S. Ameen, and W. S. Olson

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of a unique radar and radiometer dataset from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ER-2 high-altitude aircraft overlying Florida thunderstorms on 5 October 1993 during the Convection and Moisture Experiment (CAMEX). The observations represent the first ER-2 Doppler radar (EDOP) measurements and perhaps the most comprehensive multispectral precipitation measurements collected from a single aircraft. The objectives of this paper are to 1) examine the relation of the vertical radar reflectivity structure to the radiometric responses over a wide range of remote sensing frequencies, 2) examine the limitations of rain estimation schemes over land and ocean backgrounds based on the observed vertical reflectivity structures and brightness temperatures, and 3) assess the usefulness of scattering-based microwave frequencies (86 GHz and above) to provide information on vertical structure in the ice region. Analysis focused on two types of convection: a small group of thunderstorms over the Florida Straits and sea-breeze-initiated convection along the Florida Atlantic coast.

Various radiometric datasets are synthesized including visible, infrared (IR), and microwave (10–220 GHz). The rain cores observed over an ocean background by EDOP, compared quite well with elevated brightness temperatures from the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) 10.7-GHz channel. However, at higher microwave frequencies, which are ice-scattering based, storm evolution and vertical wind shear were found to be important in interpretation of the radiometric observations. As found in previous studies, the ice-scattering region was displaced significantly downshear of the convective and surface rainfall regions due to upper-level wind advection. The ice region above the rain layer was more opaque in the IR, although the 150- and 220-GHz brightness temperatures Tb approached the IR measurements and both corresponded well with the radar-detected ice regions. It was found that ice layer reflectivities and thicknesses were approximately 15 dBZ and a few kilometers, respectively, for detectable ice scattering to be present at these higher microwave frequencies.

The EDOP-derived rainfall rates and the simultaneous microwave Tb's were compared with single-frequency forward radiative transfer calculations using a family of vertical cloud and precipitation water profiles derived from a three-dimensional cloud model. Over water backgrounds, the lower-frequency emission-based theoretical curves agreed in a rough sense with the observed radar rainfall rate–Tb data points, in view of the uncertainties in the measurements and the scatter of the cloud model profiles.

The characteristics of the ice regions of the thunderstorms were examined using brightness temperature differences ΔTb such as Tb(37 GHz)–Tb(220 GHz). The Δ Tb's (150–220, 89–220, and 37–86 GHz) suggested a possible classification of the clouds and precipitation according to convective cores, elevated ice layers, and rain without significant ice above the melting layer. Although some qualitative classification of the ice is possible, the quantitative connection with ice path was difficult to obtain from the present observations.

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