Poster Session P6.10 New Techniques for Integrating Environmental Information into Radar Base Data Analysis in National Weather Service Warning Decision Making

Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Madison Ballroom (Hilton DeSoto)
Michael A. Magsig, NOAA/NWS/WDTB, Norman, OK

Handout (931.0 kB)

In the 1990s the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) provided a new platform for weather analysis and product generation. This allowed basic integration of many different warning decision making inputs including radar, surface observations, mesoscale analysis, satellite, lightning, and more. Since that time radar base data analysis in particular has undergone a general evolution to support forecasters building mental models of storm structure. Early techniques of diagnosing storm structure focused on assembling fixed four panel displays of radar base data with different tilts sampling the storm at different heights. A big change in base data analysis occurred with the emergence of “all-tilts” displays. The “all-tilts” allowed rapid interrogation of all the tilts of a limited number of volume scans using convenient keyboard shortcuts. These capabilities were expanded with addition of the Four Dimensional Stormcell Investigator (FSI). The FSI provided a separate application to display radar data with dynamically linked traditional radar tilts (Planned Position Indicators, or PPIs), vertical cross sections, horizontal cross sections (Constant Altitude Planned Position Indicators or CAPPIs), and a three dimensional perspective of these 2D textures. As these radar analysis capabilities have evolved, the direct integration of environmental information into “all-tilts” displays has not been possible until recent improvements in AWIPS Operational Build 8.3 (OB8.3).

In AWIPS OB8.3, the software has provided for new ways of integrating environmental information into radar base data displays. The improvements leverage the height of the cursor readout of the radar data and the mapping of basic height-based fields (temperature, relative humidity, horizontal wind vectors, etc) to the planes of the radar data tilts. This allows sampling of the environmental information immediately next to the radar sampling, particularly useful for interrogating things like radar reflectivity in the hail growth zone or potential bright band analysis at the freezing level in winter weather situations. The new capability also allows environmental fields to be contoured in the planes of the radar tilts, such as isotherms, relative humidity, wind vectors, etc. Finally, a popup SkewT containing the nearest vertical profile of temperature and dewpoint is dynamically linked to the radar sampling cursor. The height of the radar beam is plotted on this SkewT, and it is updated dynamically as the radar base data is sampled. The popup SkewT is particularly effective at illustrating the height of the radar data relative to the ground and the other important environmental parameters such as the lifted condensation level (LCL), the level of free convection (LFC), and the equilibrium level (EL). Examples will be shown of how this new approach of integrating environmental information into radar base data display improves NWS warning decision making.

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