Synergistic radar and sub-millimeter radiometer retrievals of ice hydrometeors in mid-latitude frontal cloud systems
Journal article, 2022

Accurate measurements of ice hydrometeors are required to improve the representation of clouds and precipitation in weather and climate models. In this study, a newly developed, synergistic retrieval algorithm that combines radar with passive millimeter and sub-millimeter observations is applied to observations of three frontally generated, mid-latitude cloud systems in order to validate the retrieval and assess its capabilities to constrain the properties of ice hydrometeors. To account for uncertainty in the assumed shapes of ice particles, the retrieval is run multiple times while the shape is varied. Good agreement with in situ measurements of ice water content and particle concentrations for particle maximum diameters larger than 200ĝ€¯μm is found for one of the flights for the large plate aggregate and the six-bullet rosette shapes. The variational retrieval fits the observations well, although small systematic deviations are observed for some of the sub-millimeter channels pointing towards issues with the sensor calibration or the modeling of gas absorption. For one of the flights the quality of the fit to the observations exhibits a weak dependency on the assumed ice particle shape, indicating that the employed combination of observations may provide limited information on the shape of ice particles in the observed clouds. Compared to a radar-only retrieval, the results show an improved sensitivity of the synergistic retrieval to the microphysical properties of ice hydrometeors at the base of the cloud. Our findings indicate that the synergy between active and passive microwave observations may improve remote-sensing measurements of ice hydrometeors and thus help to reduce uncertainties that affect currently available data products. Due to the increased sensitivity to their microphysical properties, the retrieval may also be a valuable tool to study ice hydrometeors in field campaigns. The good fits obtained to the observations increase confidence in the modeling of clouds in the Atmospheric Radiative Transfer Simulator and the corresponding single scattering database, which were used to implement the retrieval forward model. Our results demonstrate the suitability of these tools to produce realistic simulations for upcoming sub-millimeter sensors such as the Ice Cloud Image or the Arctic Weather Satellite.

midlatitude environment


water content




climate modeling




Simon Pfreundschuh

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Geoscience and Remote Sensing

Stuart Fox

Met Office

Patrick Eriksson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Geoscience and Remote Sensing

David Ian Duncan

European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

S.A. Buehler

University of Hamburg

M. Brath

University of Hamburg

Richard Cotton

Met Office

Florian Ewald

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Atmospheric Measurement Techniques

1867-1381 (ISSN) 1867-8548 (eISSN)

Vol. 15 3 677-699

Subject Categories

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Physical Geography

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources



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