The Refractive Index Spectra within Clouds from Forward-Scatter Radar Observations

Earl E. Gossard NOAA/ERL/Wave Propagation Laboratory, Boulder, CO 80303

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Richard G. Strauch NOAA/ERL/Wave Propagation Laboratory, Boulder, CO 80303

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Abstract

When long-wavelength radars are used to observe the atmosphere, there are occasions when radar return from a volume of cloud is unexpectedly large relative to that predicted by the classical incoherent scatter from individual cloud droplets. The assumption of incoherence predicts the scattered power to be proportional to the inverse fourth power of the wavelength. The observed weaker wavelength dependence could result from Bragg-coherent scatter from the ensemble of droplets or it could result from an enhancement by the cloud of inhomogeneities in the dielectric constant of the gaseous medium within the cloud. Both mechanisms are discussed and compared with data acquired in a forward-scatter mode by two 3 cm wavelength radars of NOAA's Wave Propagation Laboratory. Observed differences between the in-cloud and out-of-cloud refractive index spectra are discussed and conclusions are suggested.

Abstract

When long-wavelength radars are used to observe the atmosphere, there are occasions when radar return from a volume of cloud is unexpectedly large relative to that predicted by the classical incoherent scatter from individual cloud droplets. The assumption of incoherence predicts the scattered power to be proportional to the inverse fourth power of the wavelength. The observed weaker wavelength dependence could result from Bragg-coherent scatter from the ensemble of droplets or it could result from an enhancement by the cloud of inhomogeneities in the dielectric constant of the gaseous medium within the cloud. Both mechanisms are discussed and compared with data acquired in a forward-scatter mode by two 3 cm wavelength radars of NOAA's Wave Propagation Laboratory. Observed differences between the in-cloud and out-of-cloud refractive index spectra are discussed and conclusions are suggested.

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