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Sergey Y. Matrosov

Abstract

Information on ice cloud particle nonsphericity is important for many practical applications ranging from modeling the cloud radiation impact to remote sensing of hydrometeor microphysical properties. Scanning cloud radars, which often measure depolarization ratio as a sole polarization variable, can provide a means for retrieving this information. The applicability of a spheroidal particle model (i.e., a regular ellipsoid that has two principal axes of the same length) is evaluated for describing depolarization properties of ice particles. It is shown that this simple model, which uses an aspect ratio as a single parameter characterizing particle nonsphericity, explains reasonably well the scatter of slant 45° linear depolarization ratio (SLDR) measurements versus direct estimates of the zenith direction backscatter enhancement observed during the Storm Peak Laboratory Cloud Property Validation Experiment (StormVEx) with the scanning W-band cloud radar (SWACR). Observed SLDR elevation angle patterns are also approximated reasonably well by this shape model. It is suggested that an SLDR difference between slant and zenith radar pointing can be used for prospective remote sensing methods of inferring particle aspect ratio from cloud radar depolarization measurements. Depending on mass–size relations, the value of this difference corresponding to median zenith reflectivity enhancement observed during StormVEx relates to aspect ratios of about 0.5 ± 0.2, which generally agrees with typical aspect ratios of ice particles. Expected aspect ratio retrieval uncertainties within the spheroidal shape model and the use of different types of radar depolarization ratio measurements are discussed. A correction for estimated zenith direction reflectivity enhancements due to particle nonsphericity is suggested.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

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Dual-frequency millimeter-wavelength radar observations in snowfall are analyzed in order to evaluate differences in conventional polarimetric radar variables such as differential reflectivity (Z DR) specific differential phase shift (K DP) and linear depolarization ratio (LDR) at traditional cloud radar frequencies at Ka and W bands (~35 and ~94 GHz, correspondingly). Low radar beam elevation (~5°) measurements were performed at Oliktok Point, Alaska, with a scanning fully polarimetric radar operating in the horizontal–vertical polarization basis. This radar has the same gate spacing and very close beam widths at both frequencies, which largely alleviates uncertainties associated with spatial and temporal data matching. It is shown that observed Ka- and W-band Z DR differences are, on average, less than about 0.5 dB and do not have a pronounced trend as a function of snowfall reflectivity. The observed Z DR differences agree well with modeling results obtained using integration over nonspherical ice particle size distributions. For higher signal-to-noise ratios, K DP data derived from differential phase measurements are approximately scaled as reciprocals of corresponding radar frequencies indicating that the influence of non-Rayleigh scattering effects on this variable is rather limited. This result is also in satisfactory agreement with data obtained by modeling using realistic particle size distributions. Observed Ka- and W-band LDR differences are strongly affected by the radar hardware system polarization “leak” and are generally less than 4 dB. Smaller differences are observed for higher depolarizations, where the polarization “leak” is less pronounced. Realistic assumptions about particle canting and the system polarization isolation lead to modeling results that satisfactorily agree with observational dual-frequency LDR data.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

Abstract

Instantaneous liquid-equivalent snowfall rates S retrieved from CloudSat W-band cloud radar reflectivity Z e measurements are compared to estimates of S from operational Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) systems when the CloudSat satellite overflew the ground-based radar sites during spatially extensive nimbostratus snowfall events. For these comparisons, the ground-based radar measurements are interpolated to closely match in space and time spaceborne radar resolution volumes above ground clutter, thus avoiding uncertainties in deriving near-surface snowfall rates from measurements aloft by both radar types. Although typical uncertainties of both ground-based and spaceborne snowfall-rate retrieval approaches are quite high, the results from the standard optimal estimation CloudSat 2C-SNOW-PROFILE algorithm are on average in good agreement with the WSR-88D default snowfall algorithm results with correlation coefficients being around 0.8–0.85. The CloudSat standard optimal estimation snowfall-rate products are also shown to be in satisfactory agreement with retrievals from several simple W-band Z e –S relations suggested earlier. The snowfall rate and snow/ice water content (IWC) parameters from the CloudSat 2C-SNOW-PROFILE algorithm are highly interdependent. A tight relation between S and IWC is apparently introduced through the ice particle fall velocity assumption that is made in the reflectivity-based snowfall retrieval algorithm. This suggests that ice sedimentation rate estimates can also be deduced from applications of numerous empirical IWC–reflectivity relations derived previously for different cloud conditions when appropriate assumptions about fall velocities are made. Intercomparisons between different CloudSat snow/ice water content products indicated significant discrepancies in IWC values from different standard CloudSat retrieval algorithms.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

Abstract

The remote sensing method for retrieving vertical profiles of microphysical parameters in ice clouds from ground-based measurements taken by the Doppler radar and IR radiometer was applied to several cloud cases observed during different field experiments including FIRE-II, ASTEX, and the Arizona Program. The measurements were performed with the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory instrumentation. The observed ice clouds were mostly cirrus clouds located in the upper troposphere above 5.6 km. Their geometrical thicknesses varied from a few hundred meters to 3 km. Characteristic cloud particle sizes expressed in median mass diameters of equal-volume spheres varied from about 25 μm to more than 400 μm. Typically, characteristic particle sizes were increasing toward the cloud base, with the exception of the lowest range gates where particles were quickly sublimating. Highest particle concentrations were usually observed near the cloud tops. The vertical variability of particle sizes inside an individual cloud could reach one order of magnitude. The standard deviation of the mean profile for a typical cloud is usually factor of 2 or 3 smaller than mean values of particle characteristic size. Typical values of retrieved cloud ice water content varied from 1 to 100 mg m−3; however, individual variations were as high as four orders of magnitude. There was no consistent pattern in the vertical distribution of ice water content except for the rapid decrease in the vicinity of the cloud base. The relationships between retrieved cloud parameters and measured radar reflectivities were considered. The uncertainty of estimating cloud parameters from the power-law regressions is discussed. The parameters of these regressions varied from cloud to cloud and were comparable to the parameters in corresponding regressions obtained from direct particle sampling in other experiments. Relationships between cloud microphysical parameters and reflectivity can vary even for the same observational case. The variability diminishes if stronger reflectivities are considered. A procedure of “tuning” cloud microphysics–reflectivity regressions for individual profiles is suggested. Such a procedure can simplify the radar–radiometer method and make it applicable for a broader range of clouds.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

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The spaceborne W-band (94 GHz) radar on board the CloudSat polar-orbiting satellite offers new opportunities for retrieving parameters of precipitating cloud systems. CloudSat measurements can resolve the vertical cross sections of such systems. The radar brightband features, which are commonly present when observing stratiform precipitating systems, allow the vertical separation of the ice, mixed, and liquid precipitating hydrometeor layers. In this study, the CloudSat data are used to simultaneously retrieve ice water path (IWP) values for ice layers of precipitating systems using absolute radar reflectivity measurements and mean rainfall rates Rm in the liquid hydrometeor layers using the attenuation-based reflectivity gradient method. The retrievals were performed for precipitating events observed in the vicinity of the Southern Great Plains (SGP) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) Climate Research Facility. The retrieval results indicated that IWP values in stratiform precipitating systems vary from a few hundreds up to about 10 thousands of grams per meter squared, and the mean rain rates were in a general range between 0.5 and about 12 mm h−1. On average, mean rainfall increases with an increase in ice mass observed above the melting layer; the corresponding mean correlation coefficient is about 0.35, although events with higher correlation as well as those with no appreciable correlation were observed. Horizontal advection, wind shear, and vertical air motions might be some of the reasons for decorrelation between IWP and Rm retrieved for the same vertical atmospheric column. A mean statistical relation between IWP and Rm derived from CloudSat retrievals is in good agreement with the data obtained from multiwavelength ground-based cloud radar measurements at the SGP site.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

Abstract

A dual-wavelength radar method to estimate snowfall rate has been developed. The method suggests taking simultaneous and collocated reflectivity measurements at two radar wavelengths. Snowfall backscattering at one of these wavelengths should be in the Rayleigh regime or sufficiently close to this regime, while backscattering at the other wavelength should be substantially outside this regime for typical snowflake sizes. Combinations of Ka-band (for a shorter wavelength) and X-, C-, or S-band (for a longer wavelength) radar measurements satisfy this requirement. The logarithmic difference between reflectivities at these two wavelengths provides an independent estimate of snowflake median size D m, which exhibits a very low sensitivity to snowflake density and details of the size distribution. The estimates of D m and radar reflectivities Z e at the longer wavelength are then used to obtain snowfall rate R from the Z eR–D m relationships, which have a snowflake effective density ρ e as a “tuning” parameter. The independent information about snowflake characteristic size accounts for much of the improvement of the dual-wavelength method over traditional, single-parameter Z eR relationships.

The paper also presents experimental data collected during January–March 1996, near Boulder, Colorado, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ka- and X-band radars. The radar data were supplemented by simultaneous ground measurements of snow accumulation. Comparisons of the ground and dual-wavelength radar measurements indicate that a tuning value ρ e of about 0.03–0.04 g cm−3 provides a good match with surface-observed snow accumulations. Differences in dual-wavelength radar estimates of accumulation for ρ e between 0.03 and 0.04 g cm−3 are usually within 25%, while existing X-band, single-parameter Z eR relationships yield accumulations that differ by as much as a factor of 4.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

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Narrow elongated regions of moisture transport known as atmospheric rivers (ARs), which affect the West Coast of North America, were simultaneously observed over the eastern North Pacific Ocean by the polar-orbiting CloudSat and Aqua satellites. The presence, location, and extent of precipitation regions associated with ARs and their properties were retrieved from measurements taken at 265 satellite crossings of AR formations during the three consecutive cool seasons of the 2006–09 period. Novel independent retrievals of AR mean rain rate, precipitation regime types, and precipitation ice region properties from satellite measurements were performed. Relations between widths of precipitation bands and AR thicknesses (as defined by the integrated water vapor threshold of 20 mm) were quantified. Precipitation regime partitioning indicated that “cold” precipitation with a significant amount of melting precipitating ice and “warm” rainfall conditions with limited or no ice in the atmospheric column were observed, on average, with similar frequencies, though the cold rainfall fraction had an increasing trend as AR temperature decreased. Rain rates were generally higher for the cold precipitation regime. Precipitating ice cloud and rainfall retrievals indicated a significant correlation between the total ice amounts and the resultant rain rate. Observationally based statistical relations were derived between the boundaries of AR precipitation regions and integrated water vapor amounts and between the total content of precipitating ice and rain rate. No statistically significant differences of AR properties were found for three different cool seasons, which were characterized by differing phases of El Niño–Southern Oscillation.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

Abstract

An approach is described to retrieve the total amount of ice in a vertical atmospheric column in precipitating clouds observed by the operational Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) systems. This amount expressed as ice water path (IWP) is retrieved using measurements obtained during standard WSR-88D scanning procedures performed when observing precipitation. WSR-88D-based IWP estimates are evaluated using dedicated cloud microphysical retrievals available from the CloudSat and auxiliary spaceborne measurements. The evaluation is performed using measurements obtained in extensive predominantly stratiform precipitation systems containing both ice hydrometeors aloft and rain near the ground. The analysis is based on retrievals of IWP from satellite and the ground-based KWGX and KSHV WSR-88D that are closely collocated in time and space. The comparison results indicate a relatively high correlation between satellite and WSR-88D IWP retrievals, with corresponding correlation coefficients of around 0.7. The mean relative differences between spaceborne and ground-based estimates are around 50%–60%, which is on the order of IWP retrieval uncertainties and is comparable to the differences among various operational CloudSat IWP products. The analysis performed in this study suggests that the quantitative information on ice content of precipitation systems can generally be obtained from operational WSR-88D measurements, when they perform routine scans to observe precipitation. The limitations of WSR-88D IWP estimates due to radar beam tilt restrictions and the overshooting effects due to Earth’s sphericity are discussed.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

Abstract

A method to retrieve total vertical amounts of cloud liquid and ice in stratiform precipitating systems is described. The retrievals use measurements from the vertically pointing Ka- and W-band cloud radars operated by the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program and auxiliary measurements from a scanning National Weather Service radar and a ground-based disdrometer. Separation between the cloud liquid and rain is based on estimations of the total attenuation of millimeter-wavelength radar signals in the liquid hydrometeor layer. Disdrometer measurements are used for the retrieval constraints. Because the liquid phase hydrometeor retrievals use only differential measurements, they are immune to the absolute radar calibration uncertainties. Estimates of the ice cloud phase are performed using empirical relations between absolute radar reflectivity and ice water content. Data from the nearby scanning weather-service radar, which operates at a lower frequency, are used to correct cloud radar measurements observed above the freezing level for attenuation caused by the layers of liquid and melting hydrometeors and also by wet radomes of cloud radars. Polarimetric and vertical Doppler measurements from ARM cloud radars provide a distinct separation between regions of liquid and ice phases, and therefore the corresponding retrievals are performed in each region separately. The applicability of the suggested method is illustrated for a stratiform precipitation event observed at the ARM Southern Great Plains facility. Expected uncertainties for retrievals of cloud liquid water path are estimated at about 200–250 g m−2 for typical rainfall rates observed in stratiform systems (∼3–4 mm h−1). These uncertainties increase as rainfall rate increases. The ice water path retrieval uncertainties can be as high as a factor of 2.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov

Abstract

Polarimetric X-band radar measurements of differential reflectivity Z DR in stratiform rainfall were used for retrieving mean mass-weighted raindrop diameters Dm and estimating their spatial variability δDm at different scales. The Z DR data were calibrated and corrected for differential attenuation. The results revealed greater variability in Dm for larger spatial scales. Mean values of δDm were respectively around 0.32–0.34, 0.28–0.30, and 0.24–0.26 mm at scales of 20, 10, and 4.5 km, which are representative of footprints of various spaceborne sensors. For a given spatial scale, δDm decreases when the mean value of Dm increases. At the 20-km scale the decreasing trend exhibits a factor-of-1.7 decrease of δDm when the average Dm changes from 1 to 2 mm. Estimation data suggest that this trend diminishes as the spatial scale decreases. Measurement noise and other uncertainties preclude accurate estimations of Dm variability at smaller spatial scales because for many data points estimated variability values are equal to or less than the expected retrieval errors. Even though they are important for retrievals of absolute values of Dm, the details of the drop shape–size relation did not significantly affect estimates of size spatial variability. The polarization cross coupling in simultaneous transmission–simultaneous receiving measurement mode presents another limiting factor for accurate estimations of Dm. This factor, however, was not too severe in estimations of the size variability. There are indications that tuning the differential attenuation correction scheme might balance off some possible cross-coupling Z DR bias if differential phase accumulation is less than approximately 40°.

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