Quantitative estimation of Tropical Rainfall Mapping Mission precipitation radar signals from ground-based polarimetric radar observations



[1] The Tropical Rainfall Mapping Mission (TRMM) is the first mission dedicated to measuring rainfall from space using radar. The precipitation radar (PR) is one of several instruments aboard the TRMM satellite that is operating in a nearly circular orbit with nominal altitude of 350 km, inclination of 35°, and period of 91.5 min. The PR is a single-frequency Ku-band instrument that is designed to yield information about the vertical storm structure so as to gain insight into the intensity and distribution of rainfall. Attenuation effects on PR measurements, however, can be significant and as high as 10–15 dB. This can seriously impair the accuracy of rain rate retrieval algorithms derived from PR signal returns. Quantitative estimation of PR attenuation is made along the PR beam via ground-based polarimetric observations to validate attenuation correction procedures used by the PR. The reflectivity (Zh) at horizontal polarization and specific differential phase (Kdp) are found along the beam from S-band ground radar measurements, and theoretical modeling is used to determine the expected specific attenuation (k) along the space-Earth path at Ku-band frequency from these measurements. A theoretical k-Kdp relationship is determined for rain when Kdp ≥ 0.5°/km, and a power law relationship, k = a Zhb, is determined for light rain and other types of hydrometers encountered along the path. After alignment and resolution volume matching is made between ground and PR measurements, the two-way path-integrated attenuation (PIA) is calculated along the PR propagation path by integrating the specific attenuation along the path. The PR reflectivity derived after removing the PIA is also compared against ground radar observations.