A 5-yr 40-km-Resolution Global Climatology of Superrefraction for Ground-Based Weather Radars

Philippe Lopez
2009 Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology  
The propagation of electromagnetic waves emitted from ground-based meteorological radars is determined by the stratification of the atmosphere. In extreme superrefractive situations characterized by strong temperature inversions or strong vertical gradients of moisture, the radar beam can be deflected toward the ground (ducting or trapping). This phenomenon often results in spurious returned echoes and misinterpretation of radar images such as erroneous precipitation detection. In this work, a
more » ... n. In this work, a 5-yr global climatology of the frequency of superrefractive and ducting conditions and of trapping-layer base height has been produced using refractivity computations from ECMWF temperature, moisture, and pressure analyses at a 40-km horizontal resolution. The aim of this climatology is to better document how frequent such events are, which is a prerequisite for fully benefiting from radar data information for the multiple purposes of model validation, precipitation analysis, and data assimilation. First, the main climatological features are summarized for the whole globe: high-and midlatitude oceans seldom experience superrefraction or ducting whereas tropical oceans are strongly affected, especially in regions where the trade wind inversion is intense and lying near the surface. Over land, seasonal averages of superrefraction (ducting) frequencies reach 80% (40%) over tropical moist areas year-round but remain below 40% (15%) in most other regions. A particular focus is then laid on Europe and the United States, where extensive precipitation radar networks already exist. Seasonal statistics exhibit a pronounced diurnal cycle of ducting occurrences, with averaged frequencies peaking at 60% in summer late afternoon over the eastern half of the United States, the Balkans, and the Po Valley but no ducts by midday. Similarly high ducting frequencies are found over the southwestern coast of the United States at night. A potentially strong reduction of ducting occurrences with increased radar height (especially in midlatitude summer late afternoon) is evidenced by initiating refractivity vertical gradient computations from either the lowest or the second lowest model level. However, installing radar on tall towers also brings other problems, such as a possible amplification of sidelobe clutter echoes.
doi:10.1175/2008jamc1961x.1 fatcat:2jpvito5jva55h7j6iz2x26h54