Articles | Volume 8, issue 6
Research article
19 Jun 2015
Research article |  | 19 Jun 2015

Reconstruction of cloud geometry using a scanning cloud radar

F. Ewald, C. Winkler, and T. Zinner

Abstract. Clouds are one of the main reasons of uncertainties in the forecasts of weather and climate. In part, this is due to limitations of remote sensing of cloud microphysics. Present approaches often use passive spectral measurements for the remote sensing of cloud microphysical parameters. Large uncertainties are introduced by three-dimensional (3-D) radiative transfer effects and cloud inhomogeneities. Such effects are largely caused by unknown orientation of cloud sides or by shadowed areas on the cloud. Passive ground-based remote sensing of cloud properties at high spatial resolution could be crucially improved with this kind of additional knowledge of cloud geometry. To this end, a method for the accurate reconstruction of 3-D cloud geometry from cloud radar measurements is developed in this work. Using a radar simulator and simulated passive measurements of model clouds based on a large eddy simulation (LES), the effects of different radar scan resolutions and varying interpolation methods are evaluated. In reality, a trade-off between scan resolution and scan duration has to be found as clouds change quickly. A reasonable choice is a scan resolution of 1 to 2\degree. The most suitable interpolation procedure identified is the barycentric interpolation method. The 3-D reconstruction method is demonstrated using radar scans of convective cloud cases with the Munich miraMACS, a 35 GHz scanning cloud radar. As a successful proof of concept, camera imagery collected at the radar location is reproduced for the observed cloud cases via 3-D volume reconstruction and 3-D radiative transfer simulation. Data sets provided by the presented reconstruction method will aid passive spectral ground-based measurements of cloud sides to retrieve microphysical parameters.