816 Dual polarization for the WSR-88D – transfer of technology from a government laboratory to industry

Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Dusan S. Zrnic, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK; and G. S. Cate

The NOAA's National Weather Service has issued a contract for adding dual polarization capability to its National network of Doppler radars (WSR-88D). A chronology of events on how this technology reached operational application is presented. It is argued that the sustained and considerable investment by the government in this research and development is not suitable for industry because of two reasons. 1) It required a long term effort by highly specialized and skilled workforce with no guarantee that a payoff could be achieved. 2) The financial investment over the years equals about one half of the upgrade cost hence would be impossible to recuperate in the private sector. The process of transferring this technology over the last few years is described. After operational demonstration and cost benefit analysis, NSSL in partnership with the NWS and within the Nexrad Product Improvement program provided crucial reports and technical details for the preferred implementation. The guiding principle followed in the recommendations was to design proven yet simple features (in both signal processing and meteorological algorithms) that would yield acceptable performance with no degradation of existing capabilities. The important features include computation of polarimetric variables within the existing volume coverage patterns, clutter filtering on polarimetric radar, calibration of differential reflectivity, and mitigating sensitivity loss. Some suggestions for future enhancements with modest effort are also contained in the NSSL reports and will be discussed. More sophisticated improvements are envisioned but require sustained research and development. Access and full use of the NOAA's research and development KOUN radar was given to the contractor for implementation of their dual polarization design. The technology transfer process continued through consultations between NSSL, NWS and the contractor concerning issues encountered during the contractor's evaluation of their implementation. By the time of this presentation we will report on the success of this technology transfer model.
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