The modern era of polarimetric radar begins with radiowave propagation research starting in the early 1970s with applications to measurement and modeling of wave attenuation in rain and depolarization due to ice particles along satellite–earth links. While there is a rich history of radar in meteorology after World War II, the impetus provided by radiowave propagation requirements led to high-quality antennas and feeds. Our journey starts by describing the key institutions and personnel responsible for development of weather radar polarimetry. The early period was dominated by circularly polarized radars for propagation research and at S band (frequency near 3 GHz) for hail detection. By the mid to late 70s, a paradigm shift occurred which led to the dominance of linear polarizations with applications to slant path attenuation prediction as well as estimation of rain rates and inferences of precipitation physics. The period from the early 1980s to 1995 can be considered as the “golden” period of rapid research that brought in meteorologists, cloud physicists, and hydrologists. This article describes the evolution of this technology from the vantage point of the authors. Their personal reflections and “behind the scenes” descriptions offer a glimpse into the inner workings at several key institutions which cannot be found elsewhere.
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