Microwave Remote Sensing of Lake-Effect Snow in the GPM Era

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Mark S. Kulie, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; and S. A. Tushaus, Y. You, and N. Y. Wang

NASA's flagship precipitation platform the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission is tasked with providing near-global precipitation detection and estimation, including surface snowfall at higher latitudes. This study assesses the ability of GPM-like multi-frequency microwave radiometers to detect lake-effect snow. Lake-effect snow is a unique category of snowfall and differs drastically (from both cloud macrophysical and microphysical perspectives) from deeper snow events that are synoptically forced in the vicinity of frontal systems. Despite its shallow nature, lake-effect snow can produce intense snowfall rates and is responsible for a large percentage of the annual snowfall accumulation in many higher latitude regions that are located near large bodies of water. A database of coincident Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) radiometer (which serves as GPM proxy with similar microwave channel diversity) and National Mosaic and Multi-Sensor Quantitative Precipitation Estimate (NMQ) radar data that was developed for the Day 1 GPM Goddard Profiling Algorithm (GPROF) is analyzed for lake-effect snow events in the Great Lakes region. SSMIS lake-effect case studies will be highlighted, and typical multi-frequency microwave signatures of these snowfall events will be described. Ramifications for GPROF precipitation retrievals will also be discussed.