10 Apr 2024
 | 10 Apr 2024

PEAKO and peakTree: Tools for detecting and interpreting peaks in cloud radar Doppler spectra – capabilities and limitations

Teresa Vogl, Martin Radenz, Fabiola Ramelli, Rosa Gierens, and Heike Kalesse-Los

Abstract. Cloud radar Doppler spectra are of particular interest for investigating cloud microphysical processes, such as ice formation, riming and ice multiplication. When hydrometeor types within a cloud radar observation volume have sufficiently different terminal fall velocities, they produce individual Doppler spectrum peaks, convoluted by dynamical effects. If these (sub-)peaks can be separated, properties of the underlying hydrometeor populations can potentially be estimated, such as their fall velocity, number, size and to some extent their shape. However, this task is complex and dependent on the cloud radar operation settings, atmospheric dynamics and hydrometeor characteristics. As a consequence, there is a need for adjustable tools that are able to detect peaks in cloud radar Doppler spectra to extract the valuable information contained in them. This paper presents the synergistic use of two cloud radar Doppler spectra peak analysis algorithms, PEAKO and peakTree. PEAKO is a supervised machine learning tool that can be trained to obtain the optimal parameters for peak detection in cloud radar Doppler spectra for specific cloud radar instrument settings. The learned Doppler spectrum peak detection parameters can then be applied by peakTree, which is used to detect, structure and interpret Doppler spectrum peaks. The application of the improved PEAKO-peakTree toolkit is demonstrated in two case studies. The interpretation is supported by forward simulated cloud radar Doppler spectra by the Passive and Active Microwave TRAnsfer tool (PAMTRA), which are also used to explore the limitations of the algorithm toolkit posed by turbulence and the number of spectral averages chosen in the radar settings. From the PAMTRA simulations, we can conclude that a minimum number of 20–40 spectral averages is desirable for Doppler spectrum peak discrimination. Furthermore, liquid peaks can only be reliably separated for turbulence eddy dissipation rate values up to approximately 0.0002 m2 s−3. The first case study demonstrates that the methods work for different radar systems and settings by comparing the results for two cloud radar systems which were operated simultaneously at a site in Punta Arenas, Chile. Detected peaks which can be attributed to liquid droplets agree well between the two systems, as well as with an independent liquid-predicting neural network. The second case study compares PEAKO-peakTree-detected cloud radar Doppler spectra peaks to in situ observations collected by a balloon-based holographic imager during a campaign in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. This case showcases the Doppler spectrum peak detection algorithms’ ability to identify different hydrometeor types, but also reveals the limitations of the algorithm toolkit posed by strong turbulence and a low number of spectral averages. Despite these challenges, the algorithm toolkit offers a powerful means of extracting comprehensive information from cloud radar observations. In the future, we envision PEAKO-peakTree application on the one hand for interpreting cloud microphysics in case studies. The identification of liquid cloud peaks emerges as a valuable asset e.g. in studies on cloud radiative effects, seeder-feeder processes, or for tracing vertical air motions. Furthermore, the computation of the moments for each sub-peak enables the tracking of hydrometeor populations and the observation of growth processes along fall streaks. On the other hand, PEAKO-peakTree application could be extended to statistical evaluations of longer data sets. Both algorithms are openly available on GitHub, offering accessibility for the scientific community.

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Teresa Vogl, Martin Radenz, Fabiola Ramelli, Rosa Gierens, and Heike Kalesse-Los

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-837', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-837', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 May 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-837', Davide Ori, 15 May 2024
  • RC4: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-837', Anonymous Referee #4, 22 May 2024
Teresa Vogl, Martin Radenz, Fabiola Ramelli, Rosa Gierens, and Heike Kalesse-Los

Model code and software

PEAKO code Teresa Vogl and Heike Kalesse

peakTree code Martin Radenz

Teresa Vogl, Martin Radenz, Fabiola Ramelli, Rosa Gierens, and Heike Kalesse-Los


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Short summary
In this study, we present a toolkit of two Python algorithms to extract information about the cloud and precipitation particles present in clouds from data measured by ground-based radar instruments. The data consist of Doppler spectra, in which several peaks are formed by hydrometeor populations with different fall velocities. The detection of the specific peaks makes it possible to assign them to certain particle types, such as small cloud droplets or fast-falling ice particles like graupel.