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The effect of artificial rain on wave spectra and multi-polarisation X band radar backscatter

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We have carried out wind-wave tank measurements using wave-height and wave-slope gauges and a coherent 9.8 GHz (X band) scatterometer, when the water surface was agitated by heavy rain (160 mm h-1 to 300 mm h-1) and by wind (2 ms-1 to 12 ms-1). The upwind-looking scatterometer was operating at co- (VV- and HH-) and cross- (HV-) polarisation at a steep incidence angle of 28°. In the presence of rain, the power spectral density of the wind-wave spectra is enhanced at frequencies above about 5 Hz and it is reduced at lower frequencies. This is the net effect of surface roughness production by the rain-induced splash products and of wave damping by the rain-induced turbulence. We measured isotropic (rain-dominated) wave spectra at low wind speeds and anisotropic (wind-dominated) wave spectra at high wind speeds, with a transition wind speed that increases with rain rate. The radar backscattering at co-polarisation at low wind speeds is mainly caused by rain-induced ring waves, whereas at cross-polarisation, at all wind speeds, other rain-induced splash products, like crowns, stalks, and cavities, are the dominant scatterers. We have found a rain-induced increase of the radar backscatter at co-polarisation at wind speeds of up to 9 ms-1 and at cross-polarisation at all wind speeds. At cross-polarisation the radar backscatter slightly depends on rain rate. Using our results an analysis of spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images of tropical rain cells was performed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 20, 2002

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