Radar and Remote Sensing

Mapping the Precipitation Type Distribution over
Continuous United States using Multi-­Radar Multi-­Sensor Observations

Sheng Chen
ARRC/CEES

13 February 2014, 1:15 PM

National Weather Center, Room 1350
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

The distribution of precipitation types over continuous United States (CONUS) is not yet well
understood due to the coarse resolution of previous satellite- and ground-radar-based
precipitation products that have difficulty in classifying precipitation. Understanding the earth’s
energy circle and water balance requires an understanding of the distribution of precipitation
types and their total equivalent water budget estimation. High spatio-temporal resolution
ground-radar observations have shown great potential to classify the precipitation events into
different types. Here, four-year observations derived from the NOAA/NSSL ground radarbased
National Multi-sensor Mosaic QPE system (NMQ/Q2) are used to probe the distribution
and spatial characteristics of precipitation types (stratiform, convective, snow, tropical/warm
(T/W), and hail) over CONUS. The maps of occurrence and volume contribution of different
precipitation types in the four years and different seasons are presented to show the spatial
and temporal patterns of these precipitation types. These maps highlight the snow distribution
over northwestern and northern CONUS, convective distribution over southwestern and
central CONUS, hail distribution over central CONUS and T/M distribution over southern
CONUS. This study is the first initiative to provide an evaluation reference for remote sensing
of precipitation from space and hydrology modeling and simulation over CONUS.

KEYWORDS: radar, precipitation type, distribution.

Contributors: Sheng Chen1, 2, Y. Hong1, 2*, Q. Cao1, 2, Esther Mullens3, 4, J. J. Gourley5, A. Behrangi6, Y. Tian7, 8, J. Zhang5, Xiaoming Hu9

1School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, University of Oklahoma
2 Atmospheric Radar Research Center, National Weather Center, Norman, OK 73072
3 Cooperative Institutes for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, 73072
4School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, 73072
5 NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, OK 73072
6 Jet Propulsion Laboratories, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.
7 Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.

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