New Radars for Estimating Rainfall Installed at ARM Sites

Data derived from these instruments will support climate model simulations of cloud processes.

Several X-band scanning precipitation radars are located throughout the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility’s Southern Great Plains site. They are dual-polarized Doppler weather radars for measuring precipitation type and rainfall rates.

The Science

How do clouds and rainfall change over time? The answers are important to understanding the world’s climate. New instruments are now available to help observe cloud and rainfall processes. State-of-the-art scanning dual-polarized X- and C-band weather radars were installed at Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility sites. These instruments will improve observation of cloud and precipitation evolution, dynamic and microphysical processes, and rainfall amount, producing data that ultimately will help evaluate high-resolution climate model simulations.

The Impact

Improved numerical modeling of the Earth’s water cycle, including rainfall, is of fundamental importance to societal and many energy-related processes. Observations from these new capabilities will provide confidence in ARM radar rainfall estimates for evaluating high-resolution climate modeling simulations.


High-quality rainfall accumulation maps are important variables used to provide initial conditions for numerical model simulations and to evaluate the ability of models to capture the lifecycle of convective cloud systems. In this study, a team of scientists developed an initial set of rainfall products, including rainfall accumulation maps, from the new ARM radar systems. Researchers evaluated these products using intensive field observations at the ARM Southern Great Plains site during a joint field campaign sponsored by DOE and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. These observations allowed the scientists to quantify the uncertainty of the radar-derived data products. Results of these investigations provide confidence in ARM radar rainfall estimates when similar systems are deployed to remote global locations. The new rainfall data products are available to the research community through the ARM archive ( and will be used for process studies and evaluation of high-resolution climate model simulations. The ARM Climate Research Facility is supported by BER.


Scott Giangrande
Brookhaven National Laboratory


This work is supported by the Climate Science for a Sustainable Energy Future (CSSEF) project of the Earth System Modeling (ESM) program of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Argonne National Laboratory’s work was funded by BER under Contract DE-AC02-06CH11357. Collection of the observational data used in this paper was supported by BER as part of the ARM program and by NASA. Some work was supported by Battelle–Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (under Contract 206248). Work at the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research under the U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA–University of Oklahoma Cooperative Agreement (NA11OAR4320072).


S. Giangrande, S Collis, A. K. Theisen, and A. Tokay, “Precipitation estimation from the ARM Distributed Radar Network during the MC3E campaign.” Journal of Applied Meteorological Climatology 53(9), 2130-2147 (2014).[DOI: 10.1175/JAMC-D-13-0321.1]

Related Links

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Highlight Categories

Program: BER , CESD

Performer: University , DOE Laboratory , SC User Facilities , BER User Facilities , ARM

Additional: Collaborations , Non-DOE Interagency Collaboration