Microphysical and polarimetric radar modeling of hydrometeor refreezing

Dana M. Tobin, Matthew R. Kumjian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Aunique polarimetric radar signature indicative of hydrometeor refreezing during ice pellet events has been documented in several recent studies, yet the underlying microphysical causes remain unknown. The signature is characterized by enhancements in differential reflectivity (ZDR), specific differential phase (KDP), and linear depolarization ratio (LDR), and a reduction in copolar correlation coefficient (rhv) within a layer of decreasing radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization (ZH). In previous studies, the leading hypothesis for the observed radar signature is the preferential refreezing of small drops. Here, a simplified, one-dimensional, explicit bin microphysics model is developed to simulate the refreezing of fully melted hydrometeors, and coupled with a polarimetric radar forward operator to quantify the impact of preferential refreezing on simulated radar signatures. The modeling results demonstrate that preferential refreezing is insufficient by itself to produce the observed signatures. In contrast, simulations considering an ice shell growing asymmetrically around a freezing particle (i.e., emulating a thicker ice shell on the bottom of a falling particle) produce realistic ZDR enhancements, and also closely replicate observed features in ZH, KDP, LDR, and rhv. Simulations that assume no increase in particle wobbling with freezing produce an even greater ZDR enhancement, but this comes at the expense of reducing the LDR enhancement. It is suggested that the polarimetric refreezing signature is instead strongly related to both the distribution of the unfrozen liquid portion within a freezing particle and the orientation of this liquid with respect to the horizontal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1965-1981
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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