30 Sep 2022
 | 30 Sep 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

In orbit cross-calibration of millimeter conically scanning spaceborne radars

Alessandro Battaglia, Filippo Emilio Scarsi, Kamil Mroz, and Anthony Illingworth

Abstract. The planned and potential introduction in the global satellite observing systems of conically scanning Ka and W band atmospheric radars [e.g. the radars in the Tomorrow.IO constellation,, and the Wivern (WInd VElocity Radar Nephoscope) radar,] calls for the development of methodologies for calibrating and cross-calibrating these systems. Traditional calibration techniques pointing at the sea surface at about 12° incidence angle are in fact unfeasible for such fast rotating systems.

This study proposes a cross-calibration method for conically scanning spaceborne radars based on ice cloud reflectivity probability distribution functions (PDF) provided by reference radars like the GPM Ka-band radar or the W-band radars planned for the ESA-JAXA EarthCARE or for the NASA Atmosphere Observing System missions. In order to establish the accuracy of the methodology, radar antenna boresight positions are propagated based on four configurations of expected satellite orbits so that the ground-track intersections can be calculated for different intersection criteria, defined by cross-over instrument footprints within a certain time and a given distance. The climatology of the calibrating clouds, derived from the W-band CloudSat and Ka-band GPM reflectivity records, can be used to compute the number and the spatial distribution of calibration points. Finally, the mean number of days required to achieve a given calibration accuracy is computed based on the number of calibration points needed to distinguish a biased reflectivity PDF from the sampling-induced noisiness of the reflectivity PDF itself.

Findings demonstrate that it will be possible to cross-calibrate within 1 dB a Ka-band (W-band) conically scanning radar like that envisaged for the constellation (Wivern mission) every few days (a week). Such uncertainties are generally meeting the mission requirements and the standards currently achieved with absolute calibration accuracy.

Alessandro Battaglia et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2022-213', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 Oct 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2022-213', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 Nov 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Alessandro Battaglia, 13 Dec 2022

Alessandro Battaglia et al.

Alessandro Battaglia et al.


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Short summary
Some of the new generation of cloud and precipitation spaceborne radars will adopt conically scanning. This will make some of the standard calibration techniques impractical. This work presents a methodology to cross-calibrate radars in orbits by matching the reflectivity probability density function of ice clouds observed by the to-be-calibrated and by the refence radar in quasi-coincident locations. Results show that cross-calibration within 1 dB (26 %) are feasible.