Polarimetric radar and aircraft observations of saggy bright bands during MC3E

Matthew R. Kumjian, Subashree Mishra, Scott E. Giangrande, Tami Toto, Alexander V. Ryzhkov, Aaron Bansemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Polarimetric radar observations increasingly are used to understand cloud microphysical processes, which is critical for improving their representation in cloud and climate models. In particular, there has been recent focus on improving representations of ice collection processes (e.g., aggregation and riming), as these influence precipitation rate, heating profiles, and ultimately cloud life cycles. However, distinguishing these processes using conventional polarimetric radar observations is difficult, as they produce similar fingerprints. This necessitates improved analysis techniques and integration of complementary data sources. The Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E) provided such an opportunity. Quasi-vertical profiles of polarimetric radar variables in two MC3E stratiform precipitation events reveal episodic melting layer sagging. Integrated analyses using scanning and vertically pointing radar and aircraft measurements reveal that saggy bright band signatures are produced when denser, faster-falling, more isometric hydrometeors (relative to adjacent times) descend into the melting layer. In one case, strong circumstantial evidence for riming is found during bright band sagging times. A bin microphysical melting layer model successfully reproduces many aspects of the signature, supporting the observational analysis. If found to be a reliable indicator of riming, saggy bright bands could be a proxy for the presence of supercooled liquid water in stratiform precipitation, which may provid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3584-3607
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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