RADAR-Rainfall Uncertainties

Where are We after Thirty Years of Effort?

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Thirty years ago, Wilson and Brandes determined that radar data was “underutilized and both confusion and misunderstanding exist about the inherent ability of radar to measure rainfall, about factors that contribute to errors, and about the importance of careful calibration and signal processing.” In their seminal work, they addressed these issues by delineating the strengths and weaknesses of radar data and offering a detailed discussion of the different sources of uncertainties associated with radar-based estimates of rainfall. After three decades, we want to underscore the importance of Wilson and Brandes' paper by using it as a reference for discussing subsequent improvements in operational radar-rainfall technology in the United States. We replicated their analysis as closely as we could and present the results in this paper. Our results, which are based on an analysis of Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) data, indicate fairly substantial improvement in terms of the statistical measures used by Wilson and Brandes.

IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Witold F. Krajewski, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 E-mail: witold-krajewski@uiowa.edu

Thirty years ago, Wilson and Brandes determined that radar data was “underutilized and both confusion and misunderstanding exist about the inherent ability of radar to measure rainfall, about factors that contribute to errors, and about the importance of careful calibration and signal processing.” In their seminal work, they addressed these issues by delineating the strengths and weaknesses of radar data and offering a detailed discussion of the different sources of uncertainties associated with radar-based estimates of rainfall. After three decades, we want to underscore the importance of Wilson and Brandes' paper by using it as a reference for discussing subsequent improvements in operational radar-rainfall technology in the United States. We replicated their analysis as closely as we could and present the results in this paper. Our results, which are based on an analysis of Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) data, indicate fairly substantial improvement in terms of the statistical measures used by Wilson and Brandes.

IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Witold F. Krajewski, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 E-mail: witold-krajewski@uiowa.edu
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