Friday, October 21, 2011

Got Doppler?

The Center for Severe Weather Research Doppler on Wheels (DOW6) arrived on the University of Utah campus last night.  We are so looking forward to driving this thing around town and turning heads.  Perhaps we'll park it in front of Steve Harris Imports, the local Ferrari dealership, and see if we get more attention!

For those of you interested in the gory details, this is an X-band polarimetric Doppler radar.  X-band refers to the wavelength of the radar, which is 3 cm compared to 10 cm for a National Weather Service radar, enabling a smaller dish (desirable if you want to put it on a truck!) and increased sensitivity.  Polarimetric means that radar energy is emitted and received in two planes, horizontal and vertical, which provides information about the shape of the raindrops, snowflakes, bugs, or whatever else the intercepts the radar signal.  Most National Weather Service radars are not presently polarimetric, but will be upgraded with this capability in the next few years.  Doppler means that we can measure the speed of those raindrops, snowflakes, and bugs towards or away from the radar.   Most radars today are Doppler, but DOW6 offers higher spatial and temporal resolution.

A big advantage of the DOW is that we can position it where we want and scan storms as we want.  In addition to horizontal scans, we can take vertical slices through storms and do so at very high frequency.  University of Utah students will be using these capabilities to probe mountain storms, cold fronts, lake-effect storms, melting-band microphysics, and lake-breeze fronts.

We spent the day today learning the basics of running the DOW and will be doing a bit of testing out in the field over the weekend.  If you see us, give us a honk and wave!

U graduate students in the DOW 
Stay tuned to this blog for information on deployments and an on-campus open house that we hope to hold next week.