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The retrieval of ice water content from radar reflectivity factor and temperature and its use in evaluating a mesoscale model

Hogan, R. J., Mittermaier, M. P. and Illingworth, A. J. (2006) The retrieval of ice water content from radar reflectivity factor and temperature and its use in evaluating a mesoscale model. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 45 (2). pp. 301-317. ISSN 1558-8424

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Ice clouds are an important yet largely unvalidated component of weather forecasting and climate models, but radar offers the potential to provide the necessary data to evaluate them. First in this paper, coordinated aircraft in situ measurements and scans by a 3-GHz radar are presented, demonstrating that, for stratiform midlatitude ice clouds, radar reflectivity in the Rayleigh-scattering regime may be reliably calculated from aircraft size spectra if the "Brown and Francis" mass-size relationship is used. The comparisons spanned radar reflectivity values from -15 to +20 dBZ, ice water contents (IWCs) from 0.01 to 0.4 g m(-3), and median volumetric diameters between 0.2 and 3 mm. In mixed-phase conditions the agreement is much poorer because of the higher-density ice particles present. A large midlatitude aircraft dataset is then used to derive expressions that relate radar reflectivity and temperature to ice water content and visible extinction coefficient. The analysis is an advance over previous work in several ways: the retrievals vary smoothly with both input parameters, different relationships are derived for the common radar frequencies of 3, 35, and 94 GHz, and the problem of retrieving the long-term mean and the horizontal variance of ice cloud parameters is considered separately. It is shown that the dependence on temperature arises because of the temperature dependence of the number concentration "intercept parameter" rather than mean particle size. A comparison is presented of ice water content derived from scanning 3-GHz radar with the values held in the Met Office mesoscale forecast model, for eight precipitating cases spanning 39 h over Southern England. It is found that the model predicted mean I WC to within 10% of the observations at temperatures between -30 degrees and - 10 degrees C but tended to underestimate it by around a factor of 2 at colder temperatures.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:5361

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