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Linking rain into ice microphysics across the melting layer in stratiform rain: A closure study

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posted on 2021-03-03, 11:59 authored by K Mróz, A Battaglia, S Kneifel, L Von Terzi, M Karrer, D Ori
This study investigates the link between rain and ice microphysics across the melting layer in stratiform rain systems using measurements from vertically pointing multi-frequency Doppler radars. A novel methodology to examine the variability of the precipitation rate and the mass-weighted melted diameter (Dm) across the melting region is proposed and applied to a 6 h long case study, observed during the TRIPEx-pol field campaign at the Jülich Observatory for Cloud Evolution Core Facility and covering a gamut of ice microphysical processes. The methodology is based on an optimal estimation (OE) retrieval of particle size distributions (PSDs) and dynamics (turbulence and vertical motions) from observed multi-frequency radar Doppler spectra applied both above and below the melting layer. First, the retrieval is applied in the rain region; based on a one-to-one conversion of raindrops into snowflakes, the retrieved drop size distributions (DSDs) are propagated upward to provide the mass-flux-preserving PSDs of snow. These ice PSDs are used to simulate radar reflectivities above the melting layer for different snow models and they are evaluated for a consistency with the actual radar measurements. Second, the OE snow retrieval where Doppler spectra are simulated based on different snow models, which consistently compute fall speeds and electromagnetic properties, is performed. The results corresponding to the best-matching models are then used to estimate snow fluxes and D m, which are directly compared to the corresponding rain quantities. For the case study, the total accumulation of rain (2.30 mm) and the melted equivalent accumulation of snow (1.93 mm) show a 19 % difference. The analysis suggests that the mass flux through the melting zone is well preserved except the periods of intense riming where the precipitation rates were higher in rain than in the ice above. This is potentially due to additional condensation within the melting zone in correspondence to high relative humidity and collision and coalescence with the cloud droplets whose occurrence is ubiquitous with riming. It is shown that the mean mass-weighted diameter of ice is strongly related to the characteristic size of the underlying rain except the period of extreme aggregation where breakup of melting snowflakes significantly reduces Dm. The proposed methodology can be applied to long-term observations to advance our knowledge of the processes occurring across the melting region; this can then be used to improve assumptions underpinning spaceborne radar precipitation retrievals.



Atmos. Meas. Tech., 14, 511–529, 2021

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Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques






511 - 529


Copernicus GmbH





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