skip to main content

Title: Improving Polarimetric Radar-Based Drop Size Distribution Retrieval and Rain Estimation Using a Deep Neural Network

Raindrop size distributions (DSD) and rain rate have been estimated from polarimetric radar data using different approaches with the accuracy depending on the errors both in the radar measurements and the estimation methods. Herein, a deep neural network (DNN) technique was utilized to improve the estimation of the DSD and rain rate by mitigating these errors. The performance of this approach was evaluated using measurements from a two-dimensional video disdrometer (2DVD) at the Kessler Atmospheric and Ecological Field Station in Oklahoma as ground truth with the results compared against conventional estimation methods for the period 2006–17. Physical parameters (mass-/volume-weighted diameter and liquid water content), rain rate, and polarimetric radar variables (including radar reflectivity and differential reflectivity) were obtained from the DSD data. Three methods—physics-based inversion, empirical formula, and DNN—were applied to two different temporal domains (instantaneous and rain-event average) with three diverse error assumptions (fitting, measurement, and model errors). The DSD retrievals and rain estimates from 18 cases were evaluated by calculating the bias and root-mean-squared error (RMSE). DNN produced the best performance for most cases, with up to a 5% reduction in RMSE when model errors existed. DSD and rain estimated from a nearby polarimetric radar using the empirical and DNN methods were well correlated with the disdrometer observations; the rain-rate estimate bias of the DNN was significantly reduced (3.3% in DNN vs 50.1% in empirical). These results suggest that DNN has advantages over the physics-based and empirical methods in retrieving rain microphysics from radar observations.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Hydrometeorology
Medium: X Size: p. 2057-2073
["p. 2057-2073"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. The lower-order moments of the drop size distribution (DSD) have generally been considered difficult to retrieve accurately from polarimetric radar data because these data are related to higher-order moments. For example, the 4.6th moment is associated with a specific differential phase and the 6th moment with reflectivity and ratio of high-order moments with differential reflectivity. Thus, conventionally, the emphasis has been to estimate rain rate (3.67th moment) or parameters of the exponential or gamma distribution for the DSD. Many double-moment “bulk” microphysical schemes predict the total number concentration (the 0th moment of the DSD, or M0) and the mixing ratio (or equivalently, the 3rd moment M3). Thus, it is difficult to compare the model outputs directly with polarimetric radar observations or, given the model outputs, forward model the radar observables. This article describes the use of double-moment normalization of DSDs and the resulting stable intrinsic shape that can be fitted by the generalized gamma (G-G) distribution. The two reference moments are M3 and M6, which are shown to be retrievable using the X-band radar reflectivity, differential reflectivity, and specific attenuation (from the iterative correction of measured reflectivity Zh using the total Φdp constraint, i.e., the iterative ZPHI method). Along with the climatological shape parameters of the G-G fit to the scaled/normalized DSDs, the lower-order moments are then retrieved more accurately than possible hitherto. The importance of measuring the complete DSD from 0.1 mm onwards is emphasized using, in our case, an optical array probe with 50 µm resolution collocated with a two-dimensional video disdrometer with about 170 µm resolution. This avoids small drop truncation and hence the accurate calculation of lower-order moments. A case study of a complex multi-cell storm which traversed an instrumented site near the CSU-CHILL radar is described for which the moments were retrieved from radar and compared with directly computed moments from the complete spectrum measurements using the aforementioned two disdrometers. Our detailed validation analysis of the radar-retrieved moments showed relative bias of the moments M0 through M2 was <15 % in magnitude, with Pearson’s correlation coefficient >0.9. Both radar measurement and parameterization errors were estimated rigorously. We show that the temporal variation of the radar-retrieved mass-weighted mean diameter with M0 resulted in coherent “time tracks” that can potentially lead to studies of precipitation evolution that have not been possible so far. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Radar retrievals of drop size distribution (DSD) parameters are developed and evaluated over the mountainous Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. The observations used to develop retrievals were collected during the 2015/16 Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX) and included the NASA S-band dual-polarimetric (NPOL) radar and a collection of second-generation Particle Size and Velocity (PARSIVEL2) disdrometers over the windward slopes of the barrier. Nonlinear and random forest regressions are applied to the PARSIVEL2 data to develop retrievals for median volume diameter, liquid water content, and rain rate. Improvement in DSD retrieval accuracy, defined by the mean error of the retrieval relative to PARSIVEL2 observations, was achieved when using the random forest model when compared with nonlinear regression. Evaluation of disdrometer observations and the retrievals from NPOL indicate that the radar retrievals can accurately reproduce observed DSDs in this region, including the common wintertime regime of small but numerous raindrops that is important there. NPOL retrievals during the OLYMPEX period are further evaluated using two-dimensional video disdrometers (2DVD) and vertically pointing Micro Rain Radars. Results indicate that radar retrievals using random forests may be skillful in capturing DSD characteristics in the lowest portions of the atmosphere.

    more » « less
  3. The raindrop size distribution (DSD) is vital for applications such as quantitative precipitation estimation, understanding microphysical processes, and validation/improvement of two-moment bulk microphysical schemes. We trace the history of the DSD representation and its linkage to polarimetric radar observables from functional forms (exponential, gamma, and generalized gamma models) and its normalization (un-normalized, single/double-moment scaling normalized). The four-parameter generalized gamma model is a good candidate for the optimal representation of the DSD variability. A radar-based disdrometer was found to describe the five archetypical shapes (from Montreal, Canada) consisting of drizzle, the larger precipitation drops and the ‘S’-shaped curvature that occurs frequently in between the drizzle and the larger-sized precipitation. Similar ‘S’-shaped DSDs were reproduced by combining the disdrometric measurements of small-sized drops from an optical array probe and large-sized drops from 2DVD. A unified theory based on the double-moment scaling normalization is described. The theory assumes the multiple power law among moments and DSDs are scaling normalized by the two characteristic parameters which are expressed as a combination of any two moments. The normalized DSDs are remarkably stable. Thus, the mean underlying shape is fitted to the generalized gamma model from which the ‘optimized’ two shape parameters are obtained. The other moments of the distribution are obtained as the product of power laws of the reference moments M3 and M6 along with the two shape parameters. These reference moments can be from dual-polarimetric measurements: M6 from the attenuation-corrected reflectivity and M3 from attenuation-corrected differential reflectivity and the specific differential propagation phase. Thus, all the moments of the distribution can be calculated, and the microphysical evolution of the DSD can be inferred. This is one of the major findings of this article. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract In a 2018 paper by Bukovčić et al., polarimetric bivariate power-law relations for estimating snowfall rate S and ice water content (IWC), and , were developed utilizing 2D video disdrometer snow measurements in Oklahoma. Herein, these disdrometer-based relations are generalized for the range of particle aspect ratios from 0.5 to 0.8 and the width of the canting angle distribution from 0° to 40° and are validated via analytical/theoretical derivations and simulations. In addition, a novel S ( K DP , Z dr ) polarimetric relation utilizing the ratio between specific differential phase K DP and differential reflectivity Z dr , , is derived. Both K DP and are proportionally affected by the ice particles’ aspect ratio and width of the canting angle distribution; therefore, the variables’ ratio tends to be almost invariant to the changes in these parameters. The S ( K DP , Z ) and S ( K DP , Z dr ) relations are applied to the polarimetric S-band WSR-88D data obtained from three geographical locations in Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado, and their performance is compared with estimations from the standard S ( Z ) relations and ground snow measurements. The polarimetric estimates of snow accumulations from the three cases exhibit smaller bias in comparison with the S ( Z ), indicating good potential for more reliable radar snow measurements. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract This study evaluates ice particle size distribution and aspect ratio φ Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) dual-polarization radar retrievals through a direct comparison with two legs of observational aircraft data obtained during a winter storm case from the Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) campaign. In situ cloud probes, satellite, and MRMS observations illustrate that the often-observed K dp and Z DR enhancement regions in the dendritic growth layer can either indicate a local number concentration increase of dry ice particles or the presence of ice particles mixed with a significant number of supercooled liquid droplets. Relative to in situ measurements, MRMS retrievals on average underestimated mean volume diameters by 50% and overestimated number concentrations by over 100%. IWC retrievals using Z DR and K dp within the dendritic growth layer were minimally biased relative to in situ calculations where retrievals yielded −2% median relative error for the entire aircraft leg. Incorporating φ retrievals decreased both the magnitude and spread of polarimetric retrievals below the dendritic growth layer. While φ radar retrievals suggest that observed dendritic growth layer particles were nonspherical (0.1 ≤ φ ≤ 0.2), in situ projected aspect ratios, idealized numerical simulations, and habit classifications from cloud probe images suggest that the population mean φ was generally much higher. Coordinated aircraft radar reflectivity with in situ observations suggests that the MRMS systematically underestimated reflectivity and could not resolve local peaks in mean volume diameter sizes. These results highlight the need to consider particle assumptions and radar limitations when performing retrievals. significance statement Developing snow is often detectable using weather radars. Meteorologists combine these radar measurements with mathematical equations to study how snow forms in order to determine how much snow will fall. This study evaluates current methods for estimating the total number and mass, sizes, and shapes of snowflakes from radar using images of individual snowflakes taken during two aircraft legs. Radar estimates of snowflake properties were most consistent with aircraft data inside regions with prominent radar signatures. However, radar estimates of snowflake shapes were not consistent with observed shapes estimated from the snowflake images. Although additional research is needed, these results bolster understanding of snow-growth physics and uncertainties between radar measurements and snow production that can improve future snowfall forecasting. 
    more » « less