Comparison of rainfall microphysics characteristics derived by numerical weather prediction modelling and dual‐frequency precipitation radar

Jingxuan Zhu, Shuliang Zhang, Qiqi Yang*, Qi Shen, Lu Zhuo, Qiang Dai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


The understanding of large-scale rainfall microphysical characteristics plays a significant role in meteorology, hydrology and natural hazards managements. Traditional instruments for estimating raindrop size distribution (DSD), including disdrometers and ground dual-polarization radars, are available only in limited areas. However, the development of space-based radars and mesoscale numerical weather prediction models would allow for DSD estimation on a large scale. This study investigated the performance of the weather research and forecasting (WRF) model and the global precipitation measurement mission (GPM) dual-frequency precipitation radar for DSD retrieval under different conditions. The DSD parameters (Dm and Nw), rain rate (R), rainfall kinetic energy (KE) and radar reflectivity (Z) were estimated in Chilbolton, United Kingdom, by using long-term disdrometer observations for validation. The rainfall kinetic energy–rain rate (KE–R) and radar reflectivity–rain rate (Z–R) relationships were explored using a disdrometer, the WRF model and GPM. It was found that the DSD parameter distribution trends of the three approaches are similar although the WRF model has larger Dm and smaller Nw values. In terms of the rainfall microphysical relationship, GPM performs better when both Ku- and Ka-band precipitation radars (KuPR and KaPR) observe precipitation simultaneously (R > 0.5 mm h−1), while the WRF model shows high accuracy in light rain (R < 0.5 mm h−1). The fusion of GPM and WRF model is recommended for the improved understanding of rainfall microphysical characteristics in ungauged areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2000
Number of pages16
JournalMeteorological Applications
Issue number3
Early online date25 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41871299, 41771424 and 42071364), and the National Key R&D Program of China (Nos. 2018YFB0505500 and 2018YFB0505502).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Meteorological Applications published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the Royal Meteorological Society.


  • GPM
  • raindrop size distribution
  • rainfall
  • rainfall kinetic energy
  • weather radar
  • WRF


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