Articles | Volume 6, issue 7
Research article
02 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 02 Jul 2013

A comparison of rainfall measurements from multiple instruments

X. C. Liu, T. C. Gao, and L. Liu

Abstract. Simultaneous observations of rainfall collected by a tipping bucket rain gauge (TBRG), a weighing rain gauge (WRG), an optical rain gauge (ORG), a present weather detector (PWD), a Joss–Waldvogel disdrometer (JWD), and a 2-D video disdrometer (2DVD) during January to October 2012 were analyzed to evaluate how accurately they measure rainfall and drop size distributions (DSDs). For the long-term observations, there were different discrepancies in rain amounts from six instruments on the order of 0% to 27.7%. The TBRG, WRG, and ORG have a good agreement, while the PWD and 2DVD record higher and the JWD lower rain rates when R > 20 mm h−1, the ORG agrees well with JWD and 2DVD, while the TBRG records higher and the WRG lower rain rates when R > 20 mm h−1. Compared with the TBRG and WRG, optical and impact instruments can measure the rain rate accurately in the light rain. The overall DSDs of JWD and 2DVD agree well with each other, except for the small raindrops (D < 1 mm). JWD can measure more moderate-size raindrops (0.3 mm < D < 1.5 mm) than 2DVD, but 2DVD can measure more small-size raindrops (D < 0.3 mm). 2DVD has a larger measurement range; more overall raindrops can be measured by 2DVD than by JWD in different rain rate regimes. But small raindrops might be underestimated by 2DVD when R > 15 mm h−1. The small raindrops tend to be omitted in the more large-size raindrops due to the shadow effect of light. Therefore, the measurement accuracy of small raindrops in the heavy rainfall from 2DVD should be handled carefully.