Determining the Z-R relationship (where Z is the radar reflectivity factor and R is rainfall rate) from disdrometer data has been and is a common goal of cloud physicists and radar meteorology researchers. The usefulness of this quantity has traditionally been limited since radar represents a volume measurement, while a disdrometer corresponds to a point measurement. To solve that problem, a 3D-DSD (drop-size distribution) method of determining an equivalent 3D Z-R was developed at the University of Central Florida and tested at the Kennedy Space Center, FL. Unfortunately, that method required a minimum of three disdrometers clustered together within a microscale network (≈1-km separation). Since most commercial disdrometers used by the radar meteorology/cloud physics community are high-cost instruments, three disdrometers located within a microscale area is generally not a practical strategy due to the limitations of these kinds of research budgets.

A relatively simple modification to the 3D-DSD algorithm provides an estimate of the 3D-DSD and therefore, a 3D Z-R measurement using a single disdrometer. The basis of the horizontal extrapolation is mass conservation of a drop size increment, employing the mass conservation equation. For vertical extrapolation, convolution of a drop size increment using raindrop terminal velocity is used. Together, these two independent extrapolation techniques provide a complete 3D-DSD estimate in a volume around and above a single disdrometer. The estimation error is lowest along a vertical plane intersecting the disdrometer position in the direction of wind advection.

This work demonstrates that multiple sensors are not required for successful implementation of the 3D interpolation/ extrapolation algorithm. This is a great benefit since it is seldom that multiple sensors in the required spatial arrangement are available for this type of analysis.

The original software (developed at the University of Central Florida, 1998–- 2000) has also been modified to read standardized disdrometer data format (Joss-Waldvogel format). Other modifications to the software involve accounting for vertical ambient wind motion, as well as evaporation of the raindrop during its flight time.

This work was done by John Lane of ASRC Aerospace Corporation for Kennedy Space Center. KSC-13302