What polarimetricweather radars offer to cloud modelers: Forward radar operators and microphysical/thermodynamic retrievals

Alexander V. Ryzhkov*, Jeffrey Snyder, Jacob T. Carlin, Alexander Khain, Mark Pinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The utilization of polarimetric weather radars for optimizing cloud models is a next frontier of research. It is widely understood that inadequacies in microphysical parameterization schemes in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models is a primary cause of forecast uncertainties. Due to its ability to distinguish between hydrometeors with different microphysical habits and to identify "polarimetric fingerprints" of various microphysical processes, polarimetric radar emerges as a primary source of needed information. There are two approaches to leverage this information for NWP models: (1) radar microphysical and thermodynamic retrievals and (2) forward radar operators for converting the model outputs into the fields of polarimetric radar variables. In this paper, we will provide an overview of both. Polarimetric measurements can be combined with cloud models of varying complexity, including ones with bulk and spectral bin microphysics, as well as simplified Lagrangian models focused on a particular microphysical process. Combining polarimetric measurements with cloud modeling can reveal the impact of important microphysical agents such as aerosols or supercooled cloud water invisible to the radar on cloud and precipitation formation. Some pertinent results obtained from models with spectral bin microphysics, including the Hebrew University cloud model (HUCM) and 1D models of melting hail and snow coupled with the NSSL forward radar operator, are illustrated in the paper.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number362
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.


  • Cloud models
  • Polarimetric radar forward operators
  • Radar microphysical and thermodynamic retrievals


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