After every major weather disaster, like the overnight blast of Hurricane Michael in 2018, the same questions arise about how much forecasting might have benefited from better information about the storm and why it’s sometimes difficult to predict surprises in the clouds. .
The National Science Foundation is spending $91.8 million to help with the long-term development of a new, advanced radar system that officials say could be a big leap forward in answering these kinds of questions and providing more accurate predictions. The radar will take a closer look at what’s going on inside those clouds and storms. It can include rain, hail, snow, tornadoes, critical moments and tropical cyclones.
Here’s what the Science Foundation has to say about radar:
what is this
Airborne Phased Array Radar A state-of-the-art radar mounted on the outside of an aircraft and flown over land and sea. Once completed, the radars will be added to aircraft at NSF and NOAA.
Why do it?
“The increasing intensity and frequency of tropical storms and extreme precipitation due to climate change pose unprecedented threats to society,” the science foundation said in a news release. This information will help forecasters “who are tasked with keeping people safe.”
Who will participate in the development?
Scientists and engineers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Oklahoma, the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
What will it do?
- Collect “high-resolution measurements in space and time.”
- Identify whether storms are carrying raindrops, hail, sleet, or snow
- Document the birth and development of strong storms, including dramatic intensity changes and the formation of eyeballs in hurricanes.
- Develop signal processing techniques to collect and analyze enormous amounts of data
What will the data be used for?
- Help researchers improve models used to predict climate
- Help better predict sudden changes in tropical storm intensity
- Test forecasts of severe weather including tropical cyclones, hurricanes, damaging straight-line winds, hail and flash floods.
When will the radars be ready to fly?
The plan is to have the new radar array on the Science Foundation’s C130 by 2028 and add additional systems to NOAA aircraft after 2030.
What do participants say?
NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad called it “a transformative leap.”
“This radar capability is critical to our mission,” said Rear Admiral Nancy Hahn, NOAA’s director of marine and aviation operations.
“It’s going to give us the technology and the ability to see details of storms that have never been seen before,” said Linnea Avalon, chief officer for research facilities at the foundation. “We’re developing a tool that will help us understand why storms get more intense.”
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