This study demonstrates an implementation of the prototype quantitative precipitation R estimation algorithm using specific attenuation A for S-band polarimetric radar. The performance of R(A) algorithm is assessed, compared to the conventional algorithm using radar reflectivity Z, at multiple temporal scales. Because the factor a, defined as the net ratio of A to specific differential phase, is a key parameter of the algorithm characterized by drop size distributions (e.g., differential reflectivity Zdr dependence on Z), the estimation equations of a and a proper number of Zdr–Z samples required for a reliable a estimation are examined. Based on the dynamic estimation of a, the event-based evaluation using hourly rain gauge observations reveals that the performance of R(A) is superior to that of R(Z), with better agreement and lower variability. Despite its superiority, the study finds that R(A) leads to quite consistent overestimations of about 10%–30%. It is demonstrated that the application of uniform a over the entire radar domain yields the observed uncertainty because of the heterogeneity of precipitation in the domain. A climatological range-dependent feature of R(A) and R(Z) is inspected in the multiyear evaluation at yearly scale using rain totals for April–October. While R(Z) exposes a systematic shift and overestimation, each of which arise from the radar miscalibration and bright band effects, R(A) combining with multiple R(Z) values for solid/mixed precipitation shows relatively robust performance without those effects. The immunity of R(A) to partial beam blockage (PBB) based on both qualitative and quantitative analyses is also verified. However, the capability of R(A) regarding PBB is limited by the presence of the melting layer and its application requirement for the total span of differential phase (e.g., 38), which is another challenge for light rain.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Publication Status

Free Access


University of Iowa, Grant None

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1525-7541; 1525-755X

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2023 American Meteorological Society, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2020