PD1.1 Panel Discussion: The Next-Generation Operational Weather Radar Network

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 1:30 PM
North 128AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Mark E. Weber, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, Norman, OK; and J. Pica, C. D. Curtis, I. R. Ivic, D. Conway, and J. Y. N. Cho

For two decades, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and partners have led research addressing concepts, benefits and technologies appropriate for the post WSR-88D national operational weather radar network. A focus has been phased array radar (PAR) which could enhance warnings and forecasts through more efficient volumetric scanning of storms (Heinselman et al., 2015). If future aircraft surveillance radars employ PAR technology, these may provide high-quality supplementary weather observations that would substantially improve coverage at lower altitudes (Cho, 2015).

The National Weather Service (NWS) is completing a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that will assure effective WSR-88D network operation into the 2030+ time frame. Deployment of a next generation WSR would occur post-2030 and may exploit PAR capabilities if outstanding research and implementation questions are resolved. A nearer-term multi-agency radar acquisition activity – the Spectrum Efficient National Surveillance Radar or SENSR (FAA, 2018) – is relevant. Although SENSR is not currently planned to subsume the WSR-88D mission, its goal of consolidating operational aircraft surveillance radar networks may lead to the use of a PAR architecture, with important insights into associated issues of cost, large-scale manufacturability and life-cycle support.

This panel will discuss programmatic developments and ongoing research and demonstration addressing the viability of PAR for the future U.S. national weather surveillance radar network. Panelist comments will address:

  • NWS weather radar requirements and its strategy for evaluating alternatives for the post WSR-88D network architecture;
  • Techniques for achieving efficient volumetric scanning using PAR, and the mission impact of possible changes (relative to the WSR-88D) in the characteristics of PAR-derived data;
  • Engineering techniques required to correct for inherent biases in PAR dual-polarization variable measurements and initial estimates of their efficacy;
  • The maturity of PAR technology in relation to NWS weather radar observation requirements. Parameters of interest include cost, transmit-receive module transmitted power, horizontal/vertical polarization signal isolation, level of array-digitization, and compatibility with the calibration processes needed to assure high quality dual polarization weather observations;
  • Alternative radar network configurations and analysis of their effect on severe weather warning performance.

Our discussion will draw on emerging findings from ongoing meteorological PAR research, and related Government and industry technology development programs.


Heinselman, P.L., D.S. LaDue, M. Kingfield and R. Hoffman, 2015: Tornado warning decisions using phased-array radar data. Weather Forecasting, 30, pp 57-78.

Cho, J.Y.N., 2015: Revised multifunction phased array radar (MPAR) network siting analysis. Project Report ATC-425, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA.

FAA, https://faaco.faa.gov/index.cfm/announcement/view/31426

This abstract was prepared with funding provided by NOAA/Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research under NOAA-University of Oklahoma Cooperative Agreement #NA11OAR4320072, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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