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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-111
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Jun 2018

Research article | 13 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Evaluation of the CloudSat surface snowfall product over Antarctica using ground-based precipitation radars

Niels Souverijns1, Alexandra Gossart1, Stef Lhermitte2, Irina V. Gorodetskaya3, Jacopo Grazioli4,5, Alexis Berne4, Claudio Duran-Alarcon6, Brice Boudevillain6, Christophe Genthon6, Claudio Scarchilli7, and Nicole P. M. van Lipzig1 Niels Souverijns et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • 2Department of Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • 3CESAM - Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, Department of Physics, University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • 4Environmental Remote Sensing Laboratory, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 5Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss, Locarno-Monti, Switzerland
  • 6Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Grenoble INP, IGE, France
  • 7Laboratory Observation and analyses of Earth and Climate, ENEA, Italy

Abstract. In-situ observations of snowfall over the Antarctic Ice Sheet are scarce. Currently, continent-wide assessments of snowfall are limited to information from the Cloud Profiling Radar on board of CloudSat, which has not been evaluated up to now. In this study, snowfall derived from CloudSat is evaluated using three ground-based vertically profiling 24-GHz precipitation radars (Micro Rain Radars; MRRs). Firstly, using the MRRs long-term measurement records, an assessment of the uncertainty caused by the low temporal sampling rate of CloudSat (one revisit per 2.1 to 4.5 days) is performed. The 10–90th percentile temporal sampling uncertainty on the snowfall climatology varies between 30–40% depending on the latitudinal location and revisit time of CloudSat. Secondly, an evaluation of the snowfall climatology indicates that the CloudSat product, derived at a resolution of 1° latitude by 2° longitude, is able to accurately represent the snowfall climatology at the three MRR sites (biases<15%), outperforming ERA-Interim. For coarser and finer resolutions, the performance drops due to higher omission errors by CloudSat. Moreover, the CloudSat product does not perform well in simulating individual snowfall events. Since the difference between the MRRs and the CloudSat climatology are limited and the temporal uncertainty is lower than current CMIP5 snowfall variability, our results imply that the CloudSat product is valuable for climate model evaluation purposes.

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Short summary
Snowfall observations over Antarctica are scarce and currently limited to information of the CloudSat satellite. Here, a first evaluation of the CloudSat snowfall record is performed using observations of ground-based precipitation radars. Results indicate an accurate representation of the snowfall climatology over Antarctica, despite the low overpass frequency of the satellite, outperforming state-of-the-art model estimates. Individual snowfall events are however not well represented.
Snowfall observations over Antarctica are scarce and currently limited to information of the...
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