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Reflectivity and Liquid Water Content Vertical Decomposition Diagrams to Diagnose Vertical Evolution of Raindrop Size Distributions
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    Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 33(3), 579-595.
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    This study consists of two parts. The first part describes the way in which vertical air motions and raindrop size distributions (DSDs) were retrieved from 449-MHz and 2.835-GHz (UHF and S band) vertically pointing radars (VPRs) deployed side by side during the Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E) held in northern Oklahoma. The 449-MHz VPR can measure both vertical air motion and raindrop motion. The S-band VPR can measure only raindrop motion. These differences in VPR sensitivities facilitates the identification of two peaks in 449-MHz VPR reflectivity-weighted Doppler velocity spectra and the retrieval of vertical air motion and DSD parameters from near the surface to just below the melting layer. The second part of this study used the retrieved DSD parameters to decompose reflectivity and liquid water content (LWC) into two terms, one representing number concentration and the other representing DSD shape. Reflectivity and LWC vertical decomposition diagrams (Z-VDDs and LWC-VDDs, respectively) are introduced to highlight interactions between raindrop number and DSD shape in the vertical column. Analysis of Z-VDDs provides indirect measure of microphysical processes through radar reflectivity. Analysis of LWC-VDDs provides direct investigation of microphysical processes in the vertical column, including net raindrop evaporation or accretion and net raindrop breakup or coalescence. During a stratiform rain event (20 May 2011), LWC-VDDs exhibited signatures of net evaporation and net raindrop coalescence as the raindrops fell a distance of 2 km under a well-defined radar bright band. The LWC-VDD is a tool to characterize rain microphysics with quantities related to number-controlled and size-controlled processes.
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