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Radar Remote Sensing of Precipitation in High Mountains: Detection and Characterization of Melting Layer in the Grenoble Valley, French Alps

By Anil Kumar Khanal, Guy Delrieu, Frédéric Cazenave and Brice Boudevillain


International audienceThe RadAlp experiment aims at developing advanced methods for rain and snow estimation using weather radar remote sensing techniques in high mountain regions for improved water resource assessment and hydrological risk mitigation. A unique observation system has been deployed in the French Alps, Grenoble region. It is composed of a Météo-France operated X-band MOUC radar (volumetric, Doppler and polarimetric) on top of the Mt Moucherotte (1920 m ASL), the X-band XPORT research radar (volumetric, Doppler, polarimetric), a K-band micro rain radar (MRR, Doppler, vertically pointing) and in situ sensors (rain gauges, disdrometers), latter three operated on the Grenoble campus (220 m ASL). Based on the observation that the precipitation phase changes at/below the elevation of mountain-top MOUC radar for more than 60% of the significant events, an algorithm for ML identification has been developed using valley-based radar systems: it uses the quasi vertical profiles of XPORT polarimetric measurements (horizontal and vertical reflectivity, differential reflectivity, cross-polar correlation coefficient) and the MRR vertical profiles of apparent falling velocity spectra. The algorithm produces time series of the altitudes and values of peaks and inflection points of the different radar observables. A literature review allows us to link the micro-physical processes at play during the melting process with the available polarimetric and Doppler signatures, e.g., (i) regarding the altitude differences between the peaks of reflectivity, cross-polar correlation coefficient and differential reflectivity, as well as (ii) regarding the co-variation of the profiles of Doppler velocity spectra and cross-polar correlation coefficient. A statistical analysis of the ML based on 42 rain events (98 h of XPORT data) is then proposed. Among other results, this study indicates that (i) the mean value of the ML width in Grenoble is 610 m with a standard deviation of 160 m; (ii) the mean altitude difference between the horizontal reflectivity and the ρ HV peaks is 90 m and the mean altitude difference between the ρ HV and Zdr peaks is 30 m; (iii) even for the limited rainrate range in the dataset (0-8.5 mm h −1), the "intensity effect" is clear on the reflectivity profile and the ML width, as well as on polarimetric variables such as ρ HV peak value and the Zdr enhancement in the upper part of the profile. On the contrary, the study of both the "density effect" and the influence of the 0 • C isotherm altitude did not yield significant results with the considered dataset; (iv) a principal component analysis on one hand shows the richness of the dataset since the first 2 PCs explain only 50% of the total variance and on the other hand the added-value of the polarimetric variables since they rank high in a ranking of the total variance explained by individual variables

Topics: melting layer, radar remote sensing, hydro-meteorology, high mountains, Alps, [SDE]Environmental Sciences
Publisher: 'MDPI AG'
Year: 2019
DOI identifier: 10.3390/atmos10120784
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:hal-02405133v1
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