Fusion of Radar Polarimetry and Numerical Atmospheric Modelling Towards an Improved Understanding of Cloud and Precipitation Processes

Major objectives and visions

Cloud and precipitation processes are the main source of uncertainties in weather prediction and climate change projections since decades. A major part of these uncertainties can be attributed to missing observations suitable to challenge the representation of cloud and precipitation processes in atmospheric models. The whole atmosphere over Germany is since recently monitored by 17 state-of-the-art polarimetric Doppler weather radars, which provide every five minutes 3D information on the liquid and frozen precipitating particles and their movements on a sub-kilometer resolution, which is also approached by the atmospheric models for weather prediction and climate studies. Data assimilation merges observations and models for state estimation as a requisite for prediction and can be considered as a smart interpolation between observations while exploiting the physical consistency of atmospheric models as mathematical constraints. However, considerable knowledge gaps exist both in radar polarimetry and atmospheric models, which impede the full exploitation of the triangle radar polarimetry – atmospheric models – data assimilation and call for a coordinated interdisciplinary effort. The priority programme will exploit the synergy of the new observations and state-of-the-art atmospheric models to better understand moist processes in the atmosphere, and to improve their representation in climate- and weather prediction models. The programme will extend our scientific understanding at the verges of the three disciplines for better predictions of precipitating cloud systems by addressing the following objectives:

  1. Exploitation of radar polarimetry for quantitative process detection in precipitating clouds and for
    model evaluation
  2. Improvement of cloud and precipitation schemes in atmospheric models based on process fingerprints
    detectable in polarimetric observations
  3. Monitoring of the energy budget evolution due to phase changes in the cloudy, precipitating atmosphere
    for a better understanding of its dynamics
  4. Generation of precipitation system analyses by assimilation of polarimetric radar observations
    into atmospheric models for weather forecasting
  5. Radar-based detection of the initiation of convection for the improvement of thunderstorm prediction

Research proposals will address science questions advancing at least one of the objectives and will be proposed by teams with expertise in at least two fields of the triangle to best leverage synergy. Its exploitation for profound improvements in the representation of clouds and precipitation processes in atmospheric modelling is an emerging research field, which demands the education of scientist still rarely available in Germany. In the first three-year period preferentially PhD students will be educated and trained in the development and exploitation of polarimetric radar data, and perform research in the interdisciplinary field, while the second period will preferably provide a postdoc phase for the most successful projects. The recruitment of suitable PhD candidates will be based on a common call and selection colloquium. The advancement of the PhD students will be monitored during two annual meetings and fostered by doctoral committees crossing disciplines and institutions.

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