Experimental Tests of Methods for the Measurement of Rainfall Rate Using an Airborne Dual-Wavelength Radar

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  • 1 Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • 2 Radio Research Laboratory, Tokyo, Japan
  • 3 Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
  • 4 7420 Westlake Terrace, Bethesda, Maryland
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Abstract

For a spaceborne meteorological radar, the use of frequencies above 10 GHz may be necessary to attain sufficient spatial resolution. As the frequency increases, however, attenuation by rain becomes significant. To extend the range of rain rates that can be accurately estimated, methods other than the conventional Z-R, or backscattering method, are needed. In this paper, tests are made of two attenuation-based methods using data from a dual-wavelength airborne radar operating at 3 cm and 0.87 cm. For the conventional dual-wavelength method, the differential attenuation is estimated from the relative decrease in the signal level with range. For the surface reference method, the attenuation is determined from the difference of surface return powers measured in the absence and the presence of rain. For purposes of comparison, and as an indication of the relative accuracies of the techniques, the backscattering, (Z-R), method, as applied to the 3 cm data, is employed. As the primary sources of error for the Z-R, dual-wavelength, and surface reference methods are nearly independent, some confidence in the results is warranted when thew methods yield similar rain rates. Cases of good agreement occur most often in stratiform rain for rain rates between a few mm h−1 to about 15 mm h−1; that is, where attenuation at the shorter wavelength is significant but not so severe as to result in a loss of signal. When the estimates disagree, it is sometimes possible to identify the likely error source by an examination of the return power profiles and a knowledge of the error sources.

Abstract

For a spaceborne meteorological radar, the use of frequencies above 10 GHz may be necessary to attain sufficient spatial resolution. As the frequency increases, however, attenuation by rain becomes significant. To extend the range of rain rates that can be accurately estimated, methods other than the conventional Z-R, or backscattering method, are needed. In this paper, tests are made of two attenuation-based methods using data from a dual-wavelength airborne radar operating at 3 cm and 0.87 cm. For the conventional dual-wavelength method, the differential attenuation is estimated from the relative decrease in the signal level with range. For the surface reference method, the attenuation is determined from the difference of surface return powers measured in the absence and the presence of rain. For purposes of comparison, and as an indication of the relative accuracies of the techniques, the backscattering, (Z-R), method, as applied to the 3 cm data, is employed. As the primary sources of error for the Z-R, dual-wavelength, and surface reference methods are nearly independent, some confidence in the results is warranted when thew methods yield similar rain rates. Cases of good agreement occur most often in stratiform rain for rain rates between a few mm h−1 to about 15 mm h−1; that is, where attenuation at the shorter wavelength is significant but not so severe as to result in a loss of signal. When the estimates disagree, it is sometimes possible to identify the likely error source by an examination of the return power profiles and a knowledge of the error sources.

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