34th Conference on Radar Meteorology


Exploring alternate parameterizations for snowfall with validation from satellite and terrestrial radars

Andrew L. Molthan, University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and W. A. Petersen, J. L. Case, S. R. Dembek, and G. J. Jedlovec

Increases in computational resources have allowed operational forecast centers to pursue experimental, high resolution simulations that resolve the microphysical characteristics of clouds and precipitation. These experiments are motivated by a desire to improve the representation of weather and climate, but will also benefit current and future satellite campaigns, which often use forecast model output to guide the retrieval process. The combination of reliable cloud microphysics and radar reflectivity may constrain radiative transfer models used in satellite simulators during future missions, including EarthCARE and the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement.

Aircraft, surface and radar data from the Canadian CloudSat/CALIPSO Validation Project are used to check the validity of size distribution and density characteristics for snowfall simulated by the NASA Goddard six-class, single-moment bulk water microphysics scheme, currently available within the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) Model. Widespread snowfall developed across the region on January 22, 2007, forced by the passing of a midlatitude cyclone, and was observed by the dual-polarimetric, C-band radar King City, Ontario, as well as the NASA 94 GHz CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar. Combined, these data sets provide key metrics for validating model output: estimates of size distribution parameters fit to the inverse-exponential equations prescribed within the model, bulk density and crystal habit characteristics sampled by the aircraft, and representation of size characteristics as inferred by the radar reflectivity at C- and W-band.

Specified constants for distribution intercept and density differ significantly from observations throughout much of the cloud depth. Alternate parameterizations are explored, using column-integrated values of vapor excess to avoid problems encountered with temperature-based parameterizations in an environment where inversions and isothermal layers are present. Simulation of CloudSat reflectivity is performed by adopting the discrete-dipole parameterizations and databases provided in literature, and demonstrate an improved capability in simulating radar reflectivity at W-band versus Mie scattering assumptions.

Poster Session 7, Spaceborne Radar
Tuesday, 6 October 2009, 1:30 PM-3:30 PM, President's Ballroom

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