Comparison of Raindrop Size Distributions Measured by Radar Wind Profiler and by Airplane

R. R. Rogers Department of Meteorology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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D. Baumgardner National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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S. A. Ethier Department of Meteorology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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D. A. Carter Aeronomy Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado

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W. L. Ecklund Aeronomy Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Wind profilers are radars that operate in the VHF and UHF hands and are designed for detecting the weak echoes reflected by the optically clear atmosphere. An unexpected application of wind profilers has been the revival of an old method of estimating drop size distributions in rain from the Doppler spectrum of the received signal. Originally attempted with radars operating at microwave frequency, the method showed early promise but was seriously limited in application because of the crucial sensitivity of the estimated drop sizes to the vertical air velocity, a quantity generally unknown and, at that time, unmeasurable. Profilers have solved this problem through their ability to measure, under appropriate conditions, both air motions and drop motions. This paper compares the drop sizes measured by a UHF profiler at two altitudes in a shower with those measured simultaneously by an instrumented airplane. The agreement is satisfactory, lending support to this new application of wind profilers.

Abstract

Wind profilers are radars that operate in the VHF and UHF hands and are designed for detecting the weak echoes reflected by the optically clear atmosphere. An unexpected application of wind profilers has been the revival of an old method of estimating drop size distributions in rain from the Doppler spectrum of the received signal. Originally attempted with radars operating at microwave frequency, the method showed early promise but was seriously limited in application because of the crucial sensitivity of the estimated drop sizes to the vertical air velocity, a quantity generally unknown and, at that time, unmeasurable. Profilers have solved this problem through their ability to measure, under appropriate conditions, both air motions and drop motions. This paper compares the drop sizes measured by a UHF profiler at two altitudes in a shower with those measured simultaneously by an instrumented airplane. The agreement is satisfactory, lending support to this new application of wind profilers.

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