On the correction of partial beam blockage in polarimetric radar data

Timothy J. Lang, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Lawrence D. Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three methodologies for correcting the radar reflectivity factor (ZH) in the presence of partial beam blockage are implemented, compared, and evaluated using a polarimetric radar dataset from the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) in northwestern Mexico. One methodology uses simulated interactions between radar beams and digital terrain maps, while the other two invoke the self-consistency of polarimetric radar measurands in rainfall, and the relative insensitivity of a specific differential phase to beam blockage. While the different methodologies often agree to within 1-2 dB, significant disagreements can occur in regions of sharp azimuthal gradients in beam blockage patterns, and in areas where the terrain-caused radar clutter map is complex. These disagreements may be mitigated by the use of additional radar data to develop the polarimetric correction techniques, by a more sophisticated terrain-beam interaction model, or by a higher-resolution digital terrain map. Intercomparisons between ground radar data and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite overpasses suggest that all of the methodologies can correct mean ZH to within the expected uncertainty of such intercomparisons (1-1.5 dB). The polarimetric correction methods showed good results even in severely blocked regions (>10 dB reduction). The results suggest the possibility that all of the techniques may be valid approaches to correcting partial beam blockage, and within that context relative advantages and disadvantages of each technique are discussed. However, none of the techniques can correct radar data when weak echoes are reduced to noise by strong blocks, thus leading to biases in corrected ZH and rainfall climatologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-957
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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