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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-34
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-34
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Feb 2019

Research article | 01 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

On the distinctiveness of oceanic raindrop regimes

David Ian Duncan1, Patrick Eriksson1, Simon Pfreundschuh1, Christian Klepp2, and Daniel C. Jones3 David Ian Duncan et al.
  • 1Department of Earth, Space, and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, 412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 2CliSAP/CEN, Meteorological Institute, Universität Hamburg, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 3British Antarctic Survey, CB3 0ET Cambridge, United Kingdom

Abstract. Representation of the drop size distribution (DSD) of rainfall is a key element of characterizing precipitation in models and retrievals, with a functional form necessary to calculate the precipitation flux and the drops' interaction with radiation. With newly available oceanic disdrometer measurements, this study investigates the validity of commonly used DSDs, potentially useful a priori constraints for retrievals, and the forward model errors caused by DSD variability. These data are also compared to leading satellite-based estimates of oceanic DSDs. Forward model errors due to DSD variability are shown to be significant for both active and passive sensors. The modified gamma distribution is found to be generally adequate to describe rain DSDs, but may cause systematic errors for high latitude or stratocumulus rain retrievals; depending on the application, an exponential or generalized gamma function may be preferable for representing oceanic DSDs. An unsupervised classification algorithm finds a variety of DSD shapes that differ from commonly used DSDs, but does not find a singular set that best describes the global variability. Finally, DSD shapes are found to be not particularly distinctive of regional or large-scale environments, but rather occur at varying frequencies over the global oceans.

David Ian Duncan et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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David Ian Duncan et al.
Data sets

Supporting code for ACP submission on DSD distinctiveness D. I. Duncan https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2539161

David Ian Duncan et al.
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Short summary
Raindrop size distributions have not been systematically studied over the oceans, but are significant for remotely sensing, assimilating, and modeling rain. Here we investigate raindrop populations with new global in situ data, compare against satellite estimates, and explore a new technique to classify the shapes of these distributions. The results indicate the inadequacy of a commonly assumed shape in some regions and the sizable impact of shape variability on satellite measurements.
Raindrop size distributions have not been systematically studied over the oceans, but are...
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