Statistical analysis and modelling of weather radar beam propagation conditions in the Po Valley (Italy)
Abstract. Ground clutter caused by anomalous propagation (anaprop) can affect seriously radar rain rate estimates, particularly in fully automatic radar processing systems, and, if not filtered, can produce frequent false alarms. A statistical study of anomalous propagation detected from two operational C-band radars in the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna is discussed, paying particular attention to its diurnal and seasonal variability. The analysis shows a high incidence of anaprop in summer, mainly in the morning and evening, due to the humid and hot summer climate of the Po Valley, particularly in the coastal zone. Thereafter, a comparison between different techniques and datasets to retrieve the vertical profile of the refractive index gradient in the boundary layer is also presented. In particular, their capability to detect anomalous propagation conditions is compared. Furthermore, beam path trajectories are simulated using a multilayer ray-tracing model and the influence of the propagation conditions on the beam trajectory and shape is examined. High resolution radiosounding data are identified as the best available dataset to reproduce accurately the local propagation conditions, while lower resolution standard TEMP data suffers from interpolation degradation and Numerical Weather Prediction model data (Lokal Model) are able to retrieve a tendency to superrefraction but not to detect ducting conditions. Observing the ray tracing of the centre, lower and upper limits of the radar antenna 3-dB half-power main beam lobe it is concluded that ducting layers produce a change in the measured volume and in the power distribution that can lead to an additional error in the reflectivity estimate and, subsequently, in the estimated rainfall rate.