34th Conference on Radar Meteorology


The UAH/NSSTC Advanced Radar for Meteorological and Operational Research (ARMOR)

Walter A. Petersen, NASA/MSFC, Huntsville, AL ; and K. Knupp, L. D. Carey, D. Phillips, W. Deierling, and P. N. Gatlin

The past four years have seen a marked enhancement in meteorological-radar infrastructure and radar-research capability at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC; a collaborative center supported by UAH, NASA-MSFC and USRA). This enhancement is due in part to the development of the ARMOR C-band dual-polarimetric radar facility (amongst other mobile radar facilities also discussed in this conference). The ARMOR radar, located at Huntsville International Airport, originated as a unique collaboration between university, government and broadcast meteorologists (the very first of its kind relative to concurrent operational, research and broadcast applications of dual-polarimetry). Contributions from each of these entities resulted in the upgrade of a surplus National Weather Service WSR-74C radar to a research-grade C-band polarimetric radar. The initial upgrade of the radar took place in late 2004 with WHNT-TV purchase and installation of a SIGMET (now Vaisala) Antenna Mounted Receiver (AMR), RVP8/RCP8 radar processor/antenna controller, new radome, and a new dual-polarimetric antenna feed. The AMR enabled simultaneous transmit and receive (STSR) capability and hence collection of dual-polarimetric moments. During the initial part of the AMR upgrade the original WSR74C antenna reflector and 250 kW magnetron-transmitter were used. In early 2005, a new 350 kW magnetron transmitter was purchased from Baron Services and installed. In October of 2006 a new high performance parabolic antenna and dual-pol feed (Seavey) were installed together with a new Orbit pedestal.

ARMOR Radar control and data delivery are facilitated through the use of T-1 lines that run from the airport to both NSSTC and WHNT-TV in Huntsville. Under current operating protocols radar scanning and product development are completed at NSSTC, though meteorologists at WHNT-TV can also control the radar if desired. In its default scanning configuration the radar is operated 24/7 in an STSR polarimetric rain scan mode alternating with a surveillance scan on a 5-minute cycle; scans separated by 2.5 minutes. Every 2.5 minutes the raw data arrive at NSSTC where they are corrected in real time for attenuation and differential attenuation (using a constrained ZDR/Z-PHI approach) and new products are generated (e.g., rain maps, hydrometeor identification etc.). The raw and derived products are archived at NSSTC and also redistributed locally in real time over the network within NSSTC to the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Huntsville (collocated with NSSTC) for operational use. During periods of interesting weather the radar is often operated in full, sector, or RHI volume modes from NSSTC and coincident with UAH mobile radar or NWS NEXRAD radar platforms as needed.

Collectively, the aforementioned upgrades and network infrastructure provide a research-grade grade platform that is used in northern Alabama for studies of quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) and algorithm validation, cloud microphysical and kinematic processes, cloud electrification, planetary boundary layer dynamics, and studies of biological flyers. Numerous severe weather events in the area have provided interesting “close-in” dual-polarimetric views of phenomenon ranging from tornadic debris, hail processes, mixed phase icing events, and flooding precipitation to interesting dynamic events such as wake-low gravity waves. Students in the Department of Atmospheric Science at UAH also participate in running the radar and analyzing the data, providing a readymade source of data for many classroom project, thesis, and dissertation topics. Finally, the unique provision of polarimetric data to broadcast meteorologists provides a conduit for transfer of new technology and research applications directly to the public.

Poster Session 8, Radar Platforms
Tuesday, 6 October 2009, 1:30 PM-3:30 PM, President's Ballroom

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