Abstract

Backscatter and depolarization lidar measurements from clouds and precipitation are reported as functions of the elevation angle of the pointing lidar direction. We recorded the data by scanning the lidar beam (Nd:YAG) at a constant angular speed of ∼3.5°/s while operating at a repetition rate of 10 Hz. We show that in rain there is an evident and at times spectacular dependence on the elevation angle. That dependence appears to be sensitive to raindrop size. We have developed a three-dimensional polarization-dependent ray-tracing algorithm to calculate the backscatter and the depolarization ratio by large nonspherical droplets. We have applied it to raindrop shapes derived from existing static and dynamic (oscillating) models. We show that many of the observed complex backscatter and depolarization features can be interpreted to a good extent by geometrical optics. These results suggest that there is a definite need for more extensive calculations of the scattering phase matrix elements for large deformed raindrops as functions of the direction of illumination. Obvious applications are retrieval of information on the liquid–solid phase of precipitation and on the size and the vibration state of raindrops.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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