4-D-VAR assimilation of disdrometer data and radar spectral reflectivities for raindrop size distribution and vertical wind retrievals
- SPACE (Statistiques, Processus, Aérosols, Cycle de l'Eau)/LATMOS-IPSL, CNRS-INSU, Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin/Université Paris-Saclay, France
Abstract. This paper presents a novel framework for retrieving the vertical raindrop size distribution (DSD) and vertical wind profiles during light rain events. This is also intended as a tool to better characterize rainfall microphysical processes. It consists in coupling K band Doppler spectra and ground disdrometer measurements (raindrop fluxes) in a 2-D numerical model propagating the DSD from the clouds to the ground level. The coupling is done via a 4-D-VAR data assimilation algorithm. As a first step, in this paper, the dynamical model and the geometry of the problem are quite simple. They do not allow the complexity implied by all rain microphysical processes to be encompassed (evaporation, coalescence breakup and horizontal air motion are not taken into account). In the end, the model is limited to the fall of droplets under gravity, modulated by the effects of vertical winds. The framework is thus illustrated with light, stratiform rain events.
We firstly use simulated data sets (data assimilation twin experiment) to show that the algorithm is able to retrieve the DSD profiles and vertical winds. It also demonstrates the ability of the algorithm to deal with the atmospheric turbulence (broadening of the Doppler spectra) and the instrumental noise. The method is then applied to a real case study which was conducted in the southwest of France during the autumn 2013. The data set collected during a long, quiet event (6 h duration, rain rate between 2 and 7 mm h−1) comes from an optical disdrometer and a 24 GHz vertically pointing Doppler radar. We show that the algorithm is able to reproduce the observations and retrieve realistic DSD and vertical wind profiles, when compared to what could be expected for such a rain event.
A goal for this study is to apply it to extended data sets for a validation with independent data, which could not be done with our limited 2013 data. Other data sets would also help to parameterize more processes needed in the model (evaporation, coalescence/breakup) to apply the algorithm to convective rain and to evaluate the adequacy of the model's parameterization.