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A model investigation is carried out to analyze the impact of intense rainfall on slant-path microwave propagation, using a rainfall microphysical model. The effects are evaluated both for path attenuation, undergone by coherent radiation, and for multiple scattering phenomena, originating incoherent radiation along the path. Atmospheric spatial inhomogeneity is taken into account. The EM propagation model is formulated by means of the radiative transfer theory. The propagation model is applied both to simplified rain slabs and to vertically and horizontally inhomogeneous raining cloud structures in order to compare the impact of atmospheric models on coherent and incoherent propagation. Beacon frequencies between 20 and 50 GHz, elevation angles between 20° and 40° and surface rain rates from 1 to 100 mm/h are considered. Appropriate sensitivity analysis parameters are defined to present and discuss the numerical results. Our main conclusion is that the impact of the convective rainfall structure can be significant both in determining total attenuation and quantifying the contribution of multiple scattering to the received power. For intense rainfall, the use of a rain slab model can both overestimate coherent attenuation and underestimate incoherent intensity. The analysis of realistic raining clouds structures reveals the significance of modeling the volumetric albedo of precipitating ice, particularly at V-band. Total path attenuation can strongly depend on the pointing direction of the receiving antenna due to the intrinsic variability of the precipitating cloud composition along the slant path. Coupling cloud-resolving models with radiative transfer schemes may be foreseen as a new approach to develop statistical prediction methods at Ka-band and above in a way analogous to that pursued by using weather-radar volume data.
Date of Publication: May 2003