The electromagnetic power that comes from the Sun has been proved to be an effective reference for checking the quality of dual-polarization weather radar receiver. Operational monitoring methods have been developed and implemented for determining the electromagnetic antenna pointing, assessing the receiver stability, and the differential reflectivity offset. So far, the focus has been on relative calibration: horizontal and vertical polarization have been mutually compared and evaluated versus
the reference mainly in terms of standard deviation of the error. Radar receivers have been able to capture and describe the monthly variability (slowly varying component) of the microwave signal emitted by the Sun. In this paper, we present results from a novel Sun-based method aiming at the absolute calibration of dual-polarization weather radar receivers. To obtain best results, the radar receiver has to be off-line for a few minutes during the tracking of the Sun in order to have the antenna beam axis pointing at the center of the Sun. Among the five polarimetric weather radar receivers of the Swiss network, radar “WEI” located at an altitude of 2850 m next to Davos shows the best absolute agreement with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) reference for both horizontal (H) and vertical (V) polarization. Albis radar, which is located at an altitude of 938 m near Zurich, shows the largest difference: the radar receiver is too low compared to the Sun reference by −1.62 (−1.25) dB for the H (V) channel. Interestingly, the standard deviation of the error is smaller than ±0.17 dB for all Swiss radar receivers. With a standard deviation of ±0.04 dB Albis radar shows the best relative agreement between H and V. These results are encouraging and MeteoSwiss is planning to repeat off-line Sun-tracking measurements in the future on a regular basis.
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