Application of an optical disdrometer to characterize simulated rainfall and measure drop-size distribution

<p>Knowledge of rainfall characteristics such as drop-size distribution is essential for the development of erosion-mitigation strategies and models. This research used an optical disdrometer to elucidate the relationships between raindrop-size distribution, median volume drop diameter (<i>D</i><sub>50</sub>), kinetic energy and radar reflectivity (dBz) of simulated rainfall of different intensities. The <i>D</i><sub>50</sub> values were higher for the simulated rain than for natural rain at almost all rainfall intensities, perhaps due to variations in rainfall types and the turbulence in natural rain that breaks up large drops. The kinetic energy ranged from 26.67 to 5955.51 J m<sup>−2</sup> h <sup>−1</sup>, while the median volume drop diameter (<i>D</i><sub>50</sub>) was in the range 1.94–7.25 mm, for intensities between 1.5 and 202.6 mm h<sup>−1</sup>. The relationship between radar reflectivity (<i>Z</i>) and the intensity (<i>R</i>) of the simulated rain was best described by a power law function (<i>Z = aR<sup>b</sup></i>), with <i>a</i> and <i>b</i> coefficients in the ranges 162–706 and 0.94–2.46, respectively, throughout the range of rainfall intensities (1.5–202.6 mm h<sup>−1</sup>).</p>