An integrated approach to weather radar calibration and monitoring using ground clutter and satellite comparisons

Valentin Louf, Alain Protat, Robert A. Warren, Scott M. Collis, David B. Wolff, Surendra Raunyiar, Christian Jakob, Walter A. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The stability and accuracy of weather radar reflectivity calibration are imperative for quantitative applications, such as rainfall estimation, severe weather monitoring and nowcasting, and assimilation in numerical weather prediction models. Various radar calibration and monitoring techniques have been developed, but only recently have integrated approaches been proposed, that is, using different calibration techniques in combination. In this paper the following three techniques are used: 1) ground clutter monitoring, 2) comparisons with spaceborne radars, and 3) the self-consistency of polarimetric variables. These techniques are applied to a C-band polarimetric radar (CPOL) located in the Australian tropics since 1998. The ground clutter monitoring technique is applied to each radar volumetric scan and provides a means to reliably detect changes in calibration, relative to a baseline. It is remarkably stable to within a standard deviation of 0.1 dB. To obtain an absolute calibration value, CPOL observations are compared to spaceborne radars on board TRMM and GPM using a volume-matching technique. Using an iterative procedure and stable calibration periods identified by the ground echoes technique, we improve the accuracy of this technique to about 1 dB. Finally, we review the self-consistency technique and constrain its assumptions using results from the hybrid TRMM-GPMand ground echo technique. Small changes in the self-consistency parameterization can lead to 5 dB of variation in the reflectivity calibration. We find that the drop-shape model of Brandes et al. with a standard deviation of the canting angle of 12° best matches our dataset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-39
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Data quality control
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Tropics

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