AbstractThe vertical refractivity gradient (VRG) is critical to weather radar beam propagation. The most common method of calculating beam paths uses the 4/3 Earth radius model, which corresponds to standard refraction conditions. In the present work, to better document propagation conditions for radar electromagnetic waves, which is essential for hydrology and numerical weather forecast models to more fully benefit from observations taken from the new-generation weather radar network in China, VRG spatial and temporal variations in the first kilometers above the surface are explored using 6-yr sounding observations. Under the effects of both regional climatic and topographic conditions, VRG values for most of the radars are generally smaller than those of the standard conditions for much of the year. There are similar or slightly larger values at only a few radar sites. Smaller VRG values are more frequent and widespread, especially during rainy seasons when weather radar observations are important. In such conditions, beam heights estimated using standard atmospheric refraction are overestimated relative to actual heights for most of the radars. Underestimates are much less common and of much shorter duration. However, height deviations are acceptable for being well within the uncertainty of radar echo height owing to the ~1° beamwidth. In coastal areas and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, radar observations should be applied with much more caution because of the greater risk of beam blockage and clutter contamination.
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jan 13, 2018
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