The potential of 8-mm radars for remotely sensing cloud drop size distributions

E. E. Gossard, J. B. Snider, E. E. Clothiaux, B. Martner, J. S. Gibson, R. A. Kropfli, A. S. Frisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


This paper describes the use of a vertically pointing 8.6-mm-wavelength Doppler radar for measuring drop size spectra in clouds. The data used were collected in the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment in 1992. This paper uses the full Doppler velocity spectrum from the time series of Doppler radial velocities to extract information farther into the small-drop regime than previously attempted. The amount of liquid residing in the cloud regime is compared with that found in the precipitation regime where drop fall velocities are resolvable. Total liquid is compared with that measured with a collocated three-channel microwave radiometer. Examples of number density spectra, liquid water spectra, and flux spectra are shown and compared with what is known of these quantities from various in situ measurements by aircraft in similar clouds. Error estimates and uncertainties are discussed. It is concluded that 8-mm Doppler radars have the potential for broader use in cloud and precipitation studies than generally realized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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