Rainfall retrieval over the ocean with spaceborne W-band radar

John Matthew Haynes, Tristan S L'Ecuyer, Graeme L Stephens, Steven D Miller, Cristian Mitrescu, Norman B Wood, Simone Tanelli

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284 Citations (Scopus)


A method for retrieving precipitation over the ocean using spaceborne W-band (94 GHz) radar is introduced and applied to the CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar. The method is most applicable to stratiform-type precipitation. Measurements of radar backscatter from the ocean surface are combined with information about surface wind speed and sea surface temperature to derive the path-integrated attenuation through precipitating cloud systems. The scattering and extinction characteristics of raindrops are modeled using a combination of Mie theory (for raindrops) and the discrete dipole approximation (for ice crystals and melting snow), and a model of the melting layer is implemented to represent the transition between ice and liquid water. Backward Monte Carlo modeling is used to model multiple scattering from precipitating hydrometeors between the radar and ocean surface, which is shown to be significant for precipitation rates exceeding 3-5 mm h(-1), particularly when precipitating ice is present. An uncertainty analysis is presented and the algorithm is applied to near-global CloudSat observations and compared with other near-global precipitation sources. In the tropics, CloudSat tends to underestimate the heaviest precipitation. It is found that in the middle latitudes, however, CloudSat observes precipitation more often and with greater resulting accumulation than other spaceborne sensors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)D00A22-1 - D00A22-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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