Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

High temporal resolution of extreme rainfall rate variability and the acoustic classification of rainfall



[1] The underwater sound generated by raindrop splashes on a water surface is loud and unique allowing detection, classification and quantification of rainfall. One of the advantages of the acoustic measurement is that the listening area, an effective catchment area, is proportional to the depth of the hydrophone and can be orders of magnitude greater than other in situ rain gauges. This feature allows high temporal resolution of the rainfall measurement. A series of rain events with extremely high rainfall rates, over 100 mm/hr, is examined acoustically. Rapid onset and cessation of rainfall intensity are detected within the convective cells of these storms with maximum 5-s resolution values exceeding 1000 mm/hr. The probability distribution functions (pdf) for rainfall rate occurrence and water volume using the longer temporal resolutions typical of other instruments do not include these extreme values. The variance of sound intensity within different acoustic frequency bands can be used as an aid to classify rainfall type. Objective acoustic classification algorithms are proposed. Within each rainfall classification the relationship between sound intensity and rainfall rate is nearly linear. The reflectivity factor, Z, also has a linear relationship with rainfall rate, R, for each rainfall classification.