Enhanced radar precipitation estimates using a combined clutter and beam blockage correction technique
Weather radar observations are currently the most reliable method for remote sensing of precipitation. However, a number of factors affect the quality of radar observations and may limit seriously automated quantitative applications of radar precipitation estimates such as those required in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) data assimilation or in hydrological models. In this paper, a technique to correct two different problems typically present in radar data is presented and evaluated. The aspects dealt with are non-precipitating echoes – caused either by permanent ground clutter or by anomalous propagation of the radar beam (anaprop echoes) – and also topographical beam blockage. The correction technique is based in the computation of realistic beam propagation trajectories based upon recent radiosonde observations instead of assuming standard radio propagation conditions. The correction consists of three different steps: 1) calculation of a Dynamic Elevation Map which provides the minimum clutter-free antenna elevation for each pixel within the radar coverage; 2) correction for residual anaprop, checking the vertical reflectivity gradients within the radar volume; and 3) topographical beam blockage estimation and correction using a geometric optics approach. The technique is evaluated with four case studies in the region of the Po Valley (N Italy) using a C-band Doppler radar and a network of raingauges providing hourly precipitation measurements. The case studies cover different seasons, different radio propagation conditions and also stratiform and convective precipitation type events. After applying the proposed correction, a comparison of the radar precipitation estimates with raingauges indicates a general reduction in both the root mean squared error and the fractional error variance indicating the efficiency and robustness of the procedure. Moreover, the technique presented is not computationally expensive so it seems well suited to be implemented in an operational environment.