Leinonen et al (2018)

Algorithm that retrieves the size, number concentration and density of falling snow from multifrequency radar observations


Jussi Leinonen et al.


Leinonen, J., Lebsock, M. D., Tanelli, S., Sy, O. O., Dolan, B., Chase, R. J., Finlon, J. A., von Lerber, A., and Moisseev, D.: Retrieval of snowflake microphysical properties from multifrequency radar observations, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 5471–5488, https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-5471-2018, 2018

This work builds on previous studies that have indicated that three-frequency radars can provide information on snow density, potentially improving the accuracy of snow parameter estimates. The algorithm is based on a Bayesian framework, using lookup tables mapping the measurement space to the state space, which allows fast and robust retrieval. In the forward model, we calculate the radar reflectivities using recently published snow scattering databases. We demonstrate the algorithm using multifrequency airborne radar observations from the OLYMPEX–RADEX field campaign, comparing the retrieval results to hydrometeor identification using ground-based polarimetric radar and also to collocated in situ observations made using another aircraft. Using these data, we examine how the availability of multiple frequencies affects the retrieval accuracy, and we test the sensitivity of the algorithm to the prior assumptions. The results suggest that multifrequency radars are substantially better than single-frequency radars at retrieving snow microphysical properties. Meanwhile, triple-frequency radars can retrieve wider ranges of snow density than dual-frequency radars and better locate regions of high-density snow such as graupel, although these benefits are relatively modest compared to the difference in retrieval performance between dual- and single-frequency radars. We also examine the sensitivity of the retrieval results to the fixed a priori assumptions in the algorithm, showing that the multifrequency method can reliably retrieve snowflake size, while the retrieved number concentration and density are affected significantly by the assumptions.

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