An experimental study of small-scale variability of radar reflectivity using disdrometer observations

Benjamin J. Miriovsky, A. Allen Bradley, William E. Eichinger, Witold F. Krajewski, Anton Kruger, Brian R. Nelson, Jean Dominique Creutin, Jean Marc Lapetite, Gyu Won Lee, Isztar Zawadzki, Fred L. Ogden

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49 Scopus citations


Analysis of data collected by four disdrometers deployed in a 1-km2 area is presented with the intent of quantifying the spatial variability of radar reflectivity at small spatial scales. Spatial variability of radar reflectivity within the radar beam is a key source of error in radar-rainfall estimation because of the assumption that drops are uniformly distributed within the radar-sensing volume. Common experience tells one that, in fact, drops are not uniformly distributed, and, although some work has been done to examine the small-scale spatial variability of rain rates, little experimental work has been done to explore the variability of radar reflectivity. The four disdrometers used for this study include a two-dimensional video disdrometer, an X-band radar-based disdrometer, an impact-type disdrometer, and an optical spectropluviometer. Although instrumental differences were expected, the magnitude of these differences clouds the natural variability of interest. An algorithm is applied to mitigate these instrumental effects, and the variability remains high, even as the observations are integrated in time. Although one cannot explicitly quantify the spatial variability from this experiment, the results clearly show that the spatial variability of reflectivity is very large.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-118
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


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