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Quantitative precipitation estimation for an X-band weather radar network




Chen, Haonan, author
Chandrasekar, V., advisor
Notaros, Branislav M., committee member
Mielke, Paul W., committee member

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Currently, the Next Generation (NEXRAD) radar network, a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), Defense (DOD), and Transportation (DOT), provides radar data with updates every five-six minutes across the United States. This network consists of about 160 S-band (2.7 to 3.0 GHz) radar sites. At the maximum NEXRAD range of 230 km, the 0.5 degree radar beam is about 5.4 km above ground level (AGL) because of the effect of earth curvature. Consequently, much of the lower atmosphere (1-3 km AGL) cannot be observed by the NEXRAD. To overcome the fundamental coverage limitations of today's weather surveillance radars, and improve the spatial and temporal resolution issues, the National Science Foundation Engineering Center (NSF-ERC) for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) was founded to revolutionize weather sensing in the lower atmosphere by deploying a dense network of shorter-range, low-power X-band dual-polarization radars. The distributed CASA radars are operating collaboratively to adapt the changing atmospheric conditions. Accomplishments and breakthroughs after five years operation have demonstrated the success of CASA program. Accurate radar quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) has been pursued since the beginning of weather radar. For certain disaster prevention applications such as flash flood and landslide forecasting, the rain rate must however be measured at a high spatial and temporal resolution. To this end, high-resolution radar QPE is one of the major research activities conducted by the CASA community. A radar specific differential propagation phase (Kdp)-based QPE methodology has been developed in CASA. Unlike the rainfall estimation based on the power terms such as radar reflectivity (Z) and differential reflectivity (Zdr), Kdp-based QPE is less sensitive to the path attenuation, drop size distribution (DSD), and radar calibration errors. The CASA Kdp-based QPE system is also immune to the partial beam blockage and hail contamination. The performance of the CASA QPE system is validated and evaluated by using rain gauges. In CASA's Integrated Project 1 (IP1) test bed in Southwestern Oklahoma, a network of 20 rainfall gauges is used for cross-comparison. 40 rainfall cases, including severe, multicellular thunderstorms, squall lines and widespread stratiform rain, that happened during years 2007 - 2011, are used for validation and evaluation purpose. The performance scores illustrate that the CASA QPE system is a great improvement compared to the current state-of-the-art. In addition, the high-resolution CASA QPE products such as instantaneous rainfall rate map and hourly rainfall amount measurements can serve as a reliable input for various distributed hydrological models. The CASA QPE system can save lived and properties from hazardous flash floods by incorporating hydraulic and hydrologic models for flood monitoring and warning.


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polarimetric radar
specific differential phase (KDP) estimation
radar network
quantitative precipitation estimation


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