A critical evaluation of the adequacy of the gamma model for representing raindrop size distributions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


The adequacy of the gamma model to describe the variability of raindrop size distributions (DSD) is studied using observations from an optical disdrometer. Model adequacy is checked using a combination of Kolmogorov–Smirnov goodness-of-fit test and Kullback–Leibler divergence and the sensitivity of the results to the sampling resolution is inves-tigated. A new adaptive DSD sampling technique capable of determining the highest possible temporal sampling resolution at which the gamma model provides an adequate representation of sampled DSDs is proposed. The results show that most DSDs at 30 s are not strictly distributed according to a gamma model, while at the same time they are not far away from it either. According to the adaptive DSD sampling algorithm, the gamma model proves to be an adequate choice for the majority (85.81%) of the DSD spectra at resolutions up to 300 s. At the same time, it also reveals a considerable number of DSD spectra (5.55%) that do not follow a gamma distribution at any resolution (up to 1800 s). These are attributed to transitional periods during which the DSD is not stationary and exhibits a bimodal shape that cannot be modeled by a gamma distribution. The proposed resampling procedure is capable of automatically identifying and flagging these periods, providing new valuable quality control mechanisms for DSD retrievals in disdrometers and weather radars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1765-1779
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Drop size distribution
  • Rainfall
  • Sampling


Dive into the research topics of 'A critical evaluation of the adequacy of the gamma model for representing raindrop size distributions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this