Articles | Volume 7, issue 12
Research article
05 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 05 Dec 2014

Performance of high-resolution X-band weather radar networks – the PATTERN example

K. Lengfeld, M. Clemens, H. Münster, and F. Ament

Abstract. This publication intends to prove that a network of low-cost local area weather radars (LAWR) is a reliable and scientifically valuable complement to nationwide radar networks. A network of four LAWRs has been installed in northern Germany within the framework of the Precipitation and Attenuation Estimates from a High-Resolution Weather Radar Network (PATTERN) project observing precipitation with a temporal resolution of 30 s, a range resolution of 60 m and a sampling resolution of 1° in the azimuthal direction. The network covers an area of 60 km × 80 km. In this paper, algorithms used to obtain undisturbed precipitation fields from raw reflectivity data are described, and their performance is analysed. In order to correct operationally for background noise in reflectivity measurements, noise level estimates from the measured reflectivity field are combined with noise levels from the last 10 time steps. For detection of non-meteorological echoes, two different kinds of clutter algorithms are applied: single-radar algorithms and network-based algorithms. Besides well-established algorithms based on the texture of the logarithmic reflectivity field (TDBZ) or sign changes in the reflectivity gradient (SPIN), the advantage of the unique features of the high temporal and spatial resolution of the network is used for clutter detection. Overall, the network-based clutter algorithm works best with a detection rate of up to 70%, followed by the classic TDBZ filter using the texture of the logarithmic reflectivity field.

A comparison of a reflectivity field from the PATTERN network with the product from a C-band radar operated by the German Meteorological Service indicates high spatial accordance of both systems in the geographical position of the rain event as well as reflectivity maxima. Long-term statistics from May to September 2013 prove very good accordance of the X-band radar of the network with C-band radar, but, especially at the border of precipitation events, higher-resolved X-band radar measurements provide more detailed information on precipitation structure because the 1 km range gate of C-band radars is only partially covered with rain. The standard deviation within a range gate of the C-band radar with a range resolution of 1 km is up to 3 dBZ at the borders of rain events. The probability of detection is at least 90%, the false alarm ratio less than 10% for both systems. Therefore, a network of high-resolution low-cost LAWRs can give valuable information on the small-scale structure of rain events in areas of special interest, e.g. urban regions, in addition to the nationwide radar networks.

Short summary
This publication intends to prove that a network of low-cost local area weather radars with a time resolution of 30s and range resolution of 60m is a reliable and scientifically valuable comple-ment to nationwide radar networks, especially in urban areas. The advantages of high temporal resolution and multiple coverage in overlapping areas are proven to enhance the quality of pre-cipitation estimates. Long-term comparison with C-band radar confirms very good accordance with POD>90% and FAR<10%.