Articles | Volume 10, issue 7
Research article
20 Jul 2017
Research article |  | 20 Jul 2017

Retrieval of the raindrop size distribution from polarimetric radar data using double-moment normalisation

Timothy H. Raupach and Alexis Berne

Abstract. A new technique for estimating the raindrop size distribution (DSD) from polarimetric radar data is proposed. Two statistical moments of the DSD are estimated from polarimetric variables, and the DSD is reconstructed using a double-moment normalisation. The technique takes advantage of the relative invariance of the double-moment normalised DSD. The method was tested using X-band radar data and networks of disdrometers in three different climatic regions. Radar-derived estimates of the DSD compare reasonably well to observations. In the three tested domains, in terms of DSD moments, rain rate, and characteristic drop diameter, the proposed method performs similarly to and often better than a state-of-the-art DSD-retrieval technique. The approach is flexible because no specific DSD model is prescribed. In addition, a method is proposed to treat noisy radar data to improve DSD-retrieval performance with radar measurements.

Short summary
The raindrop size distribution (DSD) describes the microstructure of rain. It is required knowledge for weather radar applications and has broad applicability to studies of rainfall processes, including weather models and rain retrieval algorithms. We present a new technique for estimating the DSD from polarimetric radar data. The new method was tested in three different domains, and its performance was found to be similar to and often better than an an existing DSD retrieval method.