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Estimating radar reflectivity - Snowfall rate relationships and their uncertainties over Antarctica by combining disdrometer and radar observations

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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Snowfall rate (SR) estimates over Antarctica are sparse and characterised by large uncertainties. Yet, observations by precipitation radar offer the potential to get better insight in Antarctic SR. Relations between radar reflectivity (Ze) and snowfall rate (Ze-SR relations) are however not available over Antarctica. Here, we analyse observations from the first Micro Rain Radar (MRR) in Antarctica together with an optical disdrometer (Precipitation Imaging Package; PIP), deployed at the Princess Elisabeth station. The relation Ze = A*SRB was derived using PIP observations and its uncertainty was quantified using a bootstrapping approach, randomly sampling within the range of uncertainty. This uncertainty was used to assess the uncertainty in snowfall rates derived by the MRR. We find a value of A = 18 [11–43] and B = 1.10 [0.97–1.17]. The uncertainty on snowfall rates of the MRR based on the Ze-SR relation are limited to 40%, due to the propagation of uncertainty in both Ze as well as SR, resulting in some compensation. The prefactor (A) of the Ze-SR relation is sensitive to the median diameter of the snow particles. Larger particles, typically found closer to the coast, lead to an increase of the value of the prefactor (A = 44). Smaller particles, typical of more inland locations, obtain lower values for the prefactor (A = 7). The exponent (B) of the Ze-SR relation is insensitive to the median diameter of the snow particles. In contrast with previous studies for various locations, shape uncertainty is not the main source of uncertainty of the Ze-SR relation. Parameter uncertainty is found to be the most dominant term, mainly driven by the uncertainty in mass-size relation of different snow particles. Uncertainties on the snow particle size distribution are negligible in this study as they are directly measured. Future research aiming at reducing the uncertainty of Ze-SR relations should therefore focus on obtaining reliable estimates of the mass-size relations of snow particles.
Tijdschrift: Atmospheric Research
ISSN: 0169-8095
Volume: 196
Pagina's: 211 - 223
Jaar van publicatie:2017