Estimation of Rain Rate from Airborne Doppler W-Band Radar in CalWater-2
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Estimation of Rain Rate from Airborne Doppler W-Band Radar in CalWater-2
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  • Source:
    Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 35(3), 593-608.
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  • Description:
    The NOAA W-band radar was deployed on a P-3 aircraft during a study of storm fronts off the U.S. West Coast in 2015 in the second CalWater (CalWater-2) field program. This paper presents an analysis of measured equivalent radar reflectivity factor Z(em) profiles to estimate the path-averaged precipitation rate and profiles of precipitation microphysics. Several approaches are explored using information derived from attenuation of Z(em) as a result of absorption and scattering by raindrops. The first approach uses the observed decrease of Z(em) with range below the aircraft to estimate column mean precipitation rates. Ahybrid approach that combines Z(em) in light rain and attenuation in stronger rain performed best. The second approach estimates path-integrated attenuation (PIA) via the difference in measured and calculated normalized radar cross sections (NRCSm and NRCSc, respectively) retrieved from the ocean surface. The retrieved rain rates are compared to estimates from two other systems on the P-3: a Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) and a Wide-Swath Radar Altimeter (WSRA). The W-band radar gives reasonable values for rain rates in the range 0-10 mm h(-1) with an uncertainty on the order of 1 mm h(-1). Mean profiles of Z(em), raindrop Doppler velocity, attenuation, and precipitation rate in bins of rain rate are also computed. A method for correcting measured profiles of Z(em) for attenuation to estimate profiles of nonattenuated profiles of Z(e) is examined. Good results are obtained by referencing the surface boundary condition to the NRCS values of PIA. Limitations of the methods are discussed.
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