A Melting-Layer Model for Passive/Active Microwave Remote Sensing Applications. Part II: Simulation of TRMM Observations

William S. Olson

Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland

Peter Bauer

Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Cologne, Germany

Christian D. Kummerow

Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Ye Hong

The Aerospace Corporation, Los Angeles, California

Wei-Kuo Tao

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland


The one-dimensional, steady-state melting-layer model developed in Part I of this study is used to calculate both the microphysical and radiative properties of melting precipitation, based upon the computed concentrations of snow and graupel just above the freezing level at applicable horizontal grid points of three-dimensional cloud-resolving model simulations. The modified 3D distributions of precipitation properties serve as input to radiative transfer calculations of upwelling radiances and radar extinction/reflectivities at the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) and precipitation radar (PR) frequencies, respectively. At the resolution of the cloud-resolving model grids (~1 km), upwelling radiances generally increase if mixed-phase precipitation is included in the model atmosphere. The magnitude of the increase depends upon the optical thickness of the cloud and precipitation, as well as the scattering characteristics of the mixed-phase particles and ice-phase precipitation aloft. Over the set of cloud-resolving model simulations utilized in this study, maximum radiance increases of 43, 28, 18, and 10 K are simulated at 10.65, 19.35, 37.0, and 85.5 GHz, respectively. The impact of melting on TMI-measured radiances is determined not only by the physics of the melting particles but also by the horizontal extent of the melting precipitation, given that the lower-frequency channels have footprints that extend over tens of kilometers. At TMI resolution, the maximum radiance increases are 16, 15, 12, and 9 K at the same frequencies. Simulated PR extinction and reflectivities in the melting layer can increase dramatically if mixed-phase precipitation is included, a result consistent with previous studies. Maximum increases of 0.46 (−2 dB) in extinction optical depth and 5 dB in reflectivity are simulated based upon the set of cloud-resolving model simulations.