Signature of microphysics on spatial rainfall statistics

A. Parodi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, K. Emanuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Previous studies have suggested that the statistical multiscale structure of rainfall can be parameterized in terms of thermodynamic descriptors of the storm environment, and such dependence has been successfully implemented in downscaling applications. In this paper we suggest that it is possible to adopt the raindrop terminal velocity as a physical parameter to explain to a large degree the statistical variability of convective rainfall over a range of scales. We examine this assertion by analysis of high-resolution simulations of an atmosphere in radiative-convective equilibrium performed using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model and prescribing different rain terminal velocity settings corresponding to small, slowly falling drops and large, quickly falling drops, respectively. The analysis has focused on the study of the dependence of some basic statistics of rainfall fields (probability distribution of convective rain cell areas, power spectra, and multiscale statistics of rainfall intensity) on the raindrop terminal velocity by using a well-documented and widely used atmospheric model. Possible applications of our results include downscaling of rainfall satellite measurements, conditional on limited microphysical information from dual-frequency spaceborne radars, and conversion of radar reflectivity to rain rate, conditional on drop size distribution inferred from the scaling parameters of the reflectivity fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD14119
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2011


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