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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 270726, 8 pages
Research Article

Intercomparison of Vertical Structure of Storms Revealed by Ground-Based (NMQ) and Spaceborne Radars (CloudSat-CPR and TRMM-PR)

1National Weather Center Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, The University of Oklahoma, National Weather Center, 120 David L. Boren Boulevard, Suite 2500, Norman, OK 73072-7309, USA
2Department of Geography and Meteorology, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383, USA
3Advanced Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73072, USA
4Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, National Weather Center, Norman, OK 73072, USA
5School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73072, USA

Received 18 August 2013; Accepted 2 October 2013

Academic Editors: R. Ferretti, S. Hameed, and V. Levizzani

Copyright © 2013 Veronica M. Fall et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Spaceborne radars provide great opportunities to investigate the vertical structure of clouds and precipitation. Two typical spaceborne radars for such a study are the W-band Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) and Ku-band Precipitation Radar (PR), which are onboard NASA’s CloudSat and TRMM satellites, respectively. Compared to S-band ground-based radars, they have distinct scattering characteristics for different hydrometeors in clouds and precipitation. The combination of spaceborne and ground-based radar observations can help in the identification of hydrometeors and improve the radar-based quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE). This study analyzes the vertical structure of the 18 January, 2009 storm using data from the CloudSat CPR, TRMM PR, and a NEXRAD-based National Mosaic and Multisensor QPE (NMQ) system. Microphysics above, within, and below the melting layer are studied through an intercomparison of multifrequency measurements. Hydrometeors’ type and their radar scattering characteristics are analyzed. Additionally, the study of the vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR) reveals the brightband properties in the cold-season precipitation and its effect on the radar-based QPE. In all, the joint analysis of spaceborne and ground-based radar data increases the understanding of the vertical structure of storm systems and provides a good insight into the microphysical modeling for weather forecasts.