A Study of Rain Estimation Methods from Space Using Dual-Wavelength Radar Measurements at Near-Nadir Incidence over Ocean

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  • 1 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • | 2 Communications Research Laboratory, Tokyo, Japan
  • | 3 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
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Abstract

A question arising from the recent interest in spaceborne weather radar is what methods can be used to estimate precipitation parameters from space. In this paper, dual-wavelength airborne radar data obtained from flights conducted during 1988 and 1989 are used to compare rain rates derived from backscattering and attenuation methods. We begin with a survey of path-averaged rain rates estimated from six methods over four flights. The fairly large number of high rain-rate cases encountered during these experiments allows for the first tests of the surface-reference method applied to the low-frequency (10-GHz) data. To help interpret the results the surface reference methods are studied by means of scatterplots of the surface cross sections at the two frequencies under rain and no-rain conditions. Approximate criteria are given on combining attenuation and backscattering methods to increase the effective dynamic range of the radar. The dual-wavelength capability of the radar is also used to examine the vertical structure of the precipitation: critical to the success of most methods is the ability to distinguish rain from mixed-phase precipitation. Another factor affecting the accuracy of the methods is the drop-size distribution. In the final section of the paper a procedure to estimate the profiled drop-size distribution is applied to the measured radar data.

Abstract

A question arising from the recent interest in spaceborne weather radar is what methods can be used to estimate precipitation parameters from space. In this paper, dual-wavelength airborne radar data obtained from flights conducted during 1988 and 1989 are used to compare rain rates derived from backscattering and attenuation methods. We begin with a survey of path-averaged rain rates estimated from six methods over four flights. The fairly large number of high rain-rate cases encountered during these experiments allows for the first tests of the surface-reference method applied to the low-frequency (10-GHz) data. To help interpret the results the surface reference methods are studied by means of scatterplots of the surface cross sections at the two frequencies under rain and no-rain conditions. Approximate criteria are given on combining attenuation and backscattering methods to increase the effective dynamic range of the radar. The dual-wavelength capability of the radar is also used to examine the vertical structure of the precipitation: critical to the success of most methods is the ability to distinguish rain from mixed-phase precipitation. Another factor affecting the accuracy of the methods is the drop-size distribution. In the final section of the paper a procedure to estimate the profiled drop-size distribution is applied to the measured radar data.

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