Evaluation of the dual-polarization weather radar quantitative precipitation estimation using long-term datasets


Accurate, timely, and reliable precipitation observations are mandatory for hydrological forecast and early warning systems. In the case of convective precipitation, traditional rain gauge networks often miss precipitation maxima, due to density limitations and the high spatial variability of the rainfall field. Despite several limitations like attenuation or partial beam blocking, the use of C-band weather radar has become operational in most European weather services. Traditionally, weather-radar-based quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) is derived from horizontal reflectivity data. Nevertheless, dual-polarization weather radar can overcome several shortcomings of the conventional horizontal-reflectivity-based estimation. As weather radar archives are growing, they are becoming increasingly important for climatological purposes in addition to operational use. For the first time, the present study analyses one of the longest datasets from fully operational polarimetric C-band weather radars; these are located in Estonia and Italy, in very different climate conditions and environments. The length of the datasets used in the study is 5 years for both Estonia and Italy. The study focuses on long-term observations of summertime precipitation and their quantitative estimations by polarimetric observations. From such derived QPEs, accumulations for 1 h, 24 h, and 1-month durations are calculated and compared with reference rain gauges to quantify uncertainties and evaluate performances. Overall, the radar products showed similar results in Estonia and Italy when compared to each other. The product where radar reflectivity and specific differential phase were combined based on a threshold exhibited the best agreement with gauge values in all accumulation periods. In both countries reflectivity-based rainfall QPE underestimated and specific differential-phase-based product overestimated gauge measurements.