Atmospheric latent heating field is fundamental to all modes of atmospheric circulation and upper mixed layer circulations of the ocean. The key to understanding the atmospheric heating process is understanding how and where precipitation occurs. The principal atmospheric processes which link precipitation to atmospheric circulation include: (1) convective mass fluxes in the form of updrafts and downdrafts; (2) microphysical. nucleation and growth of hydrometeors; and (3) latent heating through dynamical controls on the gravitation-driven vertical mass flux of precipitation. It is well-known that surface and near-surface rainfall are two of the key forcing functions on a number of geophysical parameters at the surface-air interface. Over ocean, rainfall variation contributes to the redistribution of water salinity, sea surface temperature, fresh water supply, and marine biology and eco-system. Over land, rainfall plays a significant role in rainforest ecology and chemistry, land hydrology and surface runoff. Precipitation has also been closely linked to a number of atmospheric anomalies and natural hazards that occur at various time scales, including hurricanes, cyclones, tropical depressions, flash floods, droughts, and most noticeable of all, the El Ninos. From this point of view, the significance of global atmospheric precipitation has gone far beyond the science arena - it has a far-reaching impact on human's socio-economic well-being and sustenance. These and many other science applications require the knowledge of, in a global basis, the vertical rain structures, including vertical motion, rain intensity, differentiation of the precipitating hydrometeors' phase state, and the classification of mesoscale physical structure of the rain systems. The only direct means to obtain such information is the use of a spaceborne profiling radar. It is important to mention that the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) have made a great stride forward towards this ultimate goal. The Precipitation Radar (PR) aboard the TRMM satellite is the first ever spaceborne radar dedicated to three-dimensional, global precipitation measurements over the tropics and the subtropics, as well as the detailed synopsis of a wide range of tropical rain storm systems. In only twelve months since launch, the PR, together with other science instruments abroad the satellite have already provided unprecedented insights into the rainfall systems. It is anticipated the a lot more exciting and important rain observations would be made by TRMM throughout its mission duration. While TRMM has provided invaluable data to the user community, it is only the first step towards advancing our knowledge on rain processes and its contributions to climate variability. It is envisioned that a TRMM follow-on mission is needed in such a way to capitalize on the pioneering information provided by TRMM, and its instrument capability must be extended beyond TRMM in such a way to fully address the key science questions from microphysical to climatic time scale. In fact, a number of new and innovative mission concepts have recently put forth for this purpose. Almost all of these new concepts have suggested the utility of a more advanced, high-resolution, Doppler-enabled, vertical profiling radar that can provide multi-parameter observations of precipitation. In this paper, a system concept for a second- gene ration precipitation radar (PR-2) which addresses the above requirements will be described.
Communications and Radar