Evidence of nonspheroidal behavior in millimeter-wavelength radar observations of snowfall

J. Leinonen*, S. Kneifel, D. Moisseev, J. Tyynelä, S. Tanelli, T. Nousiainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Recent modeling results have indicated that, in general, idealized homogeneous spheroidal models of ice crystals and snowflakes cannot consistently describe radar backscattering from snowfall when the radar wavelengths are on the order of the snowflake size. In this paper, we provide empirical evidence supporting this prediction by analyzing collocated airborne radar measurements at 13.4 GHz, 35.6 GHz and 94 GHz. The analysis is performed by applying a recently developed method making use of two simultaneously measured dual-frequency ratios, allowing one to distinguish between the multifrequency backscattering behavior of detailed aggregate snow models and that of homogeneous spheroids. We demonstrate that in some naturally occurring cases, detailed snowflake models, which account for their complex structure, are required to describe backscattering by these particles in a manner that is consistent over multiple wavelengths. This implies that the spheroidal approximation is not always adequate as a snowflake shape model in radar retrievals at this wavelength range.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberD18205
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue numberD18
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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