Errors and uncertainties in microwave link rainfall estimation explored using drop size measurements and high-resolution radar data
Microwave links can be used for the estimation of path-averaged rainfall by using either the path-integrated attenuation or the difference in attenuation of two signals with different frequencies and/or polarizations. Link signals have been simulated using measured time series of raindrop size distributions (DSDs) over a period of nearly 2 yr, in combination with wind velocity data and Taylor’s hypothesis. For this purpose, Taylor’s hypothesis has been tested using more than 1.5 yr of high-resolution radar data. In terms of correlation between spatial and temporal profiles of rainfall intensities, the validity of Taylor’s hypothesis quickly decreases with distance. However, in terms of error statistics, the hypothesis is seen to hold up to distances of at least 10 km. Errors and uncertainties (mean bias error and root-mean-square error, respectively) in microwave link rainfall estimates due to spatial DSD variation are at a minimum at frequencies (and frequency combinations) where the power-law relation for the conversion to rainfall intensity is close to linear. Errors generally increase with link length, whereas uncertainties decrease because of the decrease of scatter about the retrieval relations because of averaging of spatially variable DSDs for longer links. The exponent of power-law rainfall retrieval relations can explain a large part of the variation in both bias and uncertainty, which means that the order of magnitude of these error statistics can be predicted from the value of this exponent, regardless of the link length.