Uncertainty of microwave radiative transfer computations in rain
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Currently, the effect of the vertical resolution on the brightness temperature (BT) has not been examined in depth. The uncertainty of the freezing level (FL) retrieved using two different satellites' data is large. Various radiative transfer (RT) codes yield different BTs in strong scattering conditions. The purposes of this research were: 1) to understand the uncertainty of the BT contributed by the vertical resolution numerically and analytically; 2) to reduce the uncertainty of the FL retrieval using new thermodynamic observations; and 3) to investigate the characteristics of four different RT codes. Firstly, a plane-parallel RT Model (RTM) of n layers in light rainfall was used for the analytical and computational derivation of the vertical resolution effect on the BT. Secondly, a new temperature profile based on observations was absorbed in the Texas A&M University (TAMU) algorithm. The Precipitation Radar (PR) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) data were utilized for the improved FL retrieval. Thirdly, the TAMU, Eddington approximation (EDD), Discrete Ordinate, and backward Monte Carlo codes were compared under various view angles, rain rates, FLs, frequencies, and surface properties. The uncertainty of the BT decreased as the number of layers increased. The uncertainty was due to the optical thickness rather than due to relative humidity, pressure distribution, water vapor, and temperature profile. The mean TMI FL showed a good agreement with mean bright band height. A new temperature profile reduced the uncertainty of the TMI FL by about 10%. The differences of the BTs among the four different RT codes were within 1 K at the current sensor view angle over the entire dynamic rain rate range of 10-37 GHz. The differences between the TAMU and EDD solutions were less than 0.5 K for the specular surface. In conclusion, this research suggested the vertical resolution should be considered as a parameter in the forward model. A new temperature profile improved the TMI FL in the tropics, but the uncertainty still exists with low FL. Generally, the four RT codes agreed with each other, except at nadir, near limb or in heavy rainfall. The TAMU and the EDD codes had better agreement than other RT codes.
Hong, Sung Wook (2006). Uncertainty of microwave radiative transfer computations in rain. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from