The impact of evaporation on polarimetric characteristics of rain: Theoretical model and practical implications

Matthew R. Kumjian, Alexander V. Ryzhkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Soon, the National Weather Service's Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) network will be upgraded to allow dual-polarization capabilities. Therefore, it is imperative to understand and identify microphysical processes using the polarimetric variables. Though melting and size sorting of hydrometeors have been investigated, there has been relatively little focus devoted to the impacts of evaporation on the polarimetric characteristics of rainfall. In this study, a simple explicit bin microphysics one-dimensional rainshaft model is constructed to quantify the impacts of evaporation (neglecting the collisional processes) on vertical profiles of polarimetric radar variables in rain. The results of this model are applicable for light to moderate rain (<10 mm h-1). The modeling results indicate that the amount of evaporation that occurs in the subcloud layer is strongly dependent on the initial shape of the drop size distribution aloft, which can be assessed with polarimetric measurements. Understanding how radar-estimated rainfall rates may change in height due to evaporation is important for quantitative precipitation estimates, especially in regions far from the radar or in regions of complex terrain where low levels may not be adequately sampled. In addition to quantifying the effects of evaporation, a simple method of estimating the amount of evaporation that occurs in a given environment based on polarimetric radar measurements of the reflectivity factor ZH and differential reflectivity ZDR aloft is offered. Such a technique may be useful to operational meteorologists and hydrologists in estimating the amount of precipitation reaching the surface, especially in regions of poor low-level radar coverage such as mountainous regions or locations at large distances from the radar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1247-1267
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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