Monday, 7 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Using a technique recently developed for estimating the density of surface dust dispersed during a rocket landing, measuring the extinction of a laser passing through rain (or dust in the rocket case) yields an estimate of the 2nd moment of the particle cloud, and rainfall drop size distribution (DSD) in the terrestrial meteorological case. With the exception of disdrometers, instruments that measure rainfall make indirect measurements of the DSD. Most common of these instruments are the rainfall rate gauge, measuring the 11/3th moment, (when using a D2/3 dependency on terminal velocity). Instruments that scatter microwaves off of hydrometeors, such as the WSR-88D, vertical wind profilers, and microwave disdrometers, measure the 6th moment of the DSD. By projecting a laser onto a target, changes in brightness of the laser spot against the target background during rain, yield a measurement of the DSD's 2nd moment by way of the Beer-Lambert law. In order to detect the laser attenuation within the 8-bit resolution of most camera image arrays, a minimum path length is required, depending on the intensity of the rainfall rate. For moderate to heavy rainfall, a laser path length of 100 m is sufficient to measure variations in optical extinction using a digital camera. A photo-detector may replace the camera in automated installations. In order to spatially correlate the 2nd moment measurements to a collocated disdrometer or tipping bucket, the laser's beam path can be reflected multiple times using mirrors to restrict the spatial extent of the measurement. In cases where a disdrometer is not available, complete DSD estimates can be produced by parametric fitting of a DSD model to the 2nd moment data in conjunction with tipping bucket data. In cases where a disdrometer is collocated, the laser extinction technique may yield significant improvements to in-situ disdrometer validation and calibration strategies.
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