High Resolution Radar Detection of Individual Raindrops in Natural Cloud Systems

Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:55 PM
Jerome Schmidt, Naval Research Lab Monterey, Monterey, CA, United States, Piotr J Flatau, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States, Paul R Harasti, Naval Research Lab, Monterey, CA, United States and Robert D Yates, Radar Consultant, Huntingto Beach, CA, Afghanistan
A high resolution C-band Doppler radar previously used to detect debris shed during space shuttle missions is shown to have the capability to determine the properties of individual raindrops in the free atmosphere. This is accomplished through a combination of the radar’s narrow (0.22 degree) beamwidth, a range resolution as fine as 0.5m, and extremely high 3MW power. These attributes lead to exceptionally small radar pulse volumes (as low as 14m3 at the radar’s minimum 2km range) and allow the radar to detect individual drops that exceed 0.5mm in diameter. As the radar transmits both a higher (0.5m) and lower (37m) range resolution waveform every other pulse, a unique opportunity arise to examine both the bulk radar reflectivity and individual particle properties at the same time. The larger individual drops detected by the radar appear in the radar data as bright, nearly linear, reflectivity “streaks” against the more uniform background reflectivity field generated by the population of smaller drops. These streaks can then be examined to infer the properties of the particles directly such as their size, fall velocity, concentration, and potentially other properties such as naturally occurring drop oscillations. Examples of the bulk and individual particle properties for several “streaks” associated with a deep convective system are examined. Additional high-resolution studies of the circulation fields associated with a shallow altocumulus layer and a long-lived radar reflectivity bright band associated with the melting layer within a meso-convective cloud system reveal new details of the internal circulation features associated with these phenomena.