Hail And Heavy Shower – Satellite Diagnosis

In the morning, a TV presenter assured the audience that the forecast definitely promised no rain. And in the afternoon, all credulous persons who had left umbrellas at home were caught by a heavy shower. Weather forecasting is a difficult and thankless task. Factors are multiple, it is practically impossible to take them all into account, therefore the forecast may be only probabilistic. However, people tend not to notice accurate forecasts, but discuss mistakes for a long time.

Nevertheless, now accuracy of forecasts, at least – that of heavy showers and hail forecasts – may be significantly increased. The hope for that is provided by research by Moscow scientists – specialists of the hydrometeorological scientific research center of Russia and their colleagues from the PLANETA Scientific Research Center for Space Hydrometeorology. The method they suggest would not require new experimental data; the data currently available is sufficient, but it will be possible now to draw out much more information from it.

The researchers recounted their development at the Second Open All-Russian Conference “Up-to-date problems of remote probing of the Earth from space”.

The heavy shower and hail forecasts are based on the data about the Earth’s outgoing thermal radiation. By measuring it from the NOAA-16 polar orbiting satellite with the help of two radiometers in microwaves and infrared spectral band, the authors learned to calculate nebulosity parameters which determine the heavy shower and hail formation process. Based on these parameters, in turn, the researchers managed to calculate values of precipitation intensity and the diameter of hailstones.

Fundamental parameters are two atmospheric temperatures: at the level of the nebulosity upper bound and at the surface directly under the cloud. These two temperatures are determined with the help of radiometers located on the satellite. This data allows to determine the altitude of nebulosity upper bound, maximum speed of vertical upstreams and to evaluate the value of maximum precipitation intensity at the surface in the nebulosity area. Simply speaking, this allows to recon whether the cloud under consideration is fraught with a heavy shower or light rain, as well as the probability if it will spill with rain at all.

To estimate if the cloud would fall down with hail and the size of hailstones, the researchers invented a technique, which is based on the same input data. By the way, this technique has been already tested and it is successfully used by the specialists of the antihail service in Argentina.
In general, possessing a relatively small data reserve, meteorologists are able now to identify a shower cloud or a cloud fraught with hail (it is called hail-bearing) with about 80 percent probability. They can draw respective maps. The most important things to have are a good algorithm, software and a high-speed computer. However, meteorologists like to use computers.

It is not without reason that one of the most powerful in the world supercomputers, located in Japan and computing the climate on the Earth, is a huge object, its square twice exceeding a football ground. But such supermachines are not required to solve the tasks of recognizing hail and shower by thermal radiation of the Earth. Machines available now are sufficient.

An agreeable advantage of the new approach is that it is multipurpose. Not only does it allow to diagnose heavy shower-rains and hail but it also gives an opportunity to assess intensity of these precipitations. This can be assessed above any type of surface, even above snow or ice.

Specialists know that this particularly difficult to do. The public will be glad that weather forecasts may become much more accurate. They would not carry umbrellas in vain, or caught by showers without an umbrella either.

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Sergey Komarov alfa

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Earth Sciences (also referred to as Geosciences), which deals with basic issues surrounding our planet, plays a vital role in the area of energy and raw materials supply.

Earth Sciences comprises subjects such as geology, geography, geological informatics, paleontology, mineralogy, petrography, crystallography, geophysics, geodesy, glaciology, cartography, photogrammetry, meteorology and seismology, early-warning systems, earthquake research and polar research.

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