Modelling weather radar beam propagation and topographical blockage at northern high latitudes



This paper describes a study to evaluate the variability of radio-propagation conditions and to assess their effects upon weather-radar beam blockage corrections for precipitation estimates. Radiosonde observations are examined in order to analyse the propagation conditions at several locations covered by the Nordic Weather Radar Network (NORDRAD). A beam-propagation model is used to simulate the interaction between the radar beam and the topography and to derive correction factors. The model is applied to correct yearly accumulations, assuming standard radio-propagation conditions, and is also used to examine case studies in detail under various propagation conditions. The correction reduces the bias between yearly radar precipitation estimates and gauge records by 1 dB for moderate blockages (1% to 50%), and by up to 3 dB for severe blockages (50% to 70%). The case studies indicate that HIRLAM forecasts show potential to predict the radar coverage and the associated ground- and sea-clutter patterns. This research aims at determining a beam-blockage-correction algorithm to be used within the NORDRAD quality-control system. This is particularly useful for obtaining radar precipitation estimates in environments with complex topography. Copyright © 2007 Royal Meteorological Society