WEATHER RADAR TECHNOLOGY

BEYOND NEXRAD

Committee on Weather Radar Technology Beyond NEXRAD

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.



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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad WEATHER RADAR TECHNOLOGY BEYOND NEXRAD Committee on Weather Radar Technology Beyond NEXRAD Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract No. 56-DKNA-1-95101 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Contract No. DTFA0101G10185 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Federal Aviation Administration, and Grant No. N00014-00-1-0912 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Office of Naval Research. Additional funding was provided by the U.S. Air Force through the NOAA contract. The views and any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08466-0 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624–6242 or (202) 334–3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Printed in the United States of America Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad COMMITTEE ON WEATHER RADAR TECHNOLOGY BEYOND NEXRAD PAUL L.SMITH (chair), South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City DAVID ATLAS, Consultant, Bethesda, Maryland HOWARD B.BLUESTEIN, University of Oklahoma, Norman V.CHANDRASEKAR, Colorado State University, Fort Collins EUGENIA KALNAY, University of Maryland, College Park R.JEFFREY KEELER, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado JOHN McCARTHY, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California STEVEN A.RUTLEDGE, Colorado State University, Fort Collins THOMAS A.SELIGA, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts ROBERT J.SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado F.WESLEY WILSON, JR., National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF VAUGHAN C.TUREKIAN, Study Director DIANE L.GUSTAFSON, Administrative Associate ROB GREENWAY, Project Assistant ELIZABETH A.GALINIS, Project Assistant

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ERIC J.BARRON (chair), Pennsylvania State University, University Park RAYMOND J.BAN, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia ROBERT C.BEARDSLEY, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Massachusetts ROSINA M.BIERBAUM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor HOWARD B.BLUESTEIN, University of Oklahoma, Norman RAFAEL L.BRAS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge STEVEN F.CLIFFORD, University of Colorado/CIRES, Boulder CASSANDRA G.FESEN, University of Texas, Dallas GEORGE L.FREDERICK, Vaisala, Inc., Boulder, Colorado JUDITH L.LEAN, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. MARGARET A.LEMONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado MARIO J.MOLINA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MICHAEL J.PRATHER, University of California, Irvine WILLIAM J.RANDEL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado RICHARD D.ROSEN, Atmospheric & Environmental Research, Inc., Lexington, Massachusetts THOMAS F.TASCIONE, Sterling Software, Bellevue, Nebraska JOHN C.WYNGAARD, Pennsylvania State University, University Park EX OFFICIO MEMBERS EUGENE M.RASMUSSON, University of Maryland, College Park ERIC F.WOOD, Princeton University, New Jersey NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF CHRIS ELFRING, Director ELBERT W.(JOE) FRIDAY, JR., Senior Scholar PETER A.SCHULTZ, Senior Program Officer LAURIE S.GELLER, Senior Program Officer VAUGHAN C.TUREKIAN, Program Officer DIANE L.GUSTAFSON, Administrative Associate ROB GREENWAY, Project Assistant ELIZABETH A.GALINIS, Project Assistant ROBIN MORRIS, Financial Officer

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad Preface Weather radar is a vital instrument for observing the atmosphere to help provide weather forecasts and issue weather warnings to the public. The current Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) system provides Doppler radar coverage to most regions of the United States (NRC, 1995). This network was designed in the mid 1980s and deployed in the 1990s as part of the National Weather Service (NWS) modernization (NRC, 1999). Since the initial design phase of the NEXRAD program, considerable advances have been made in radar technologies and in the use of weather radar for monitoring and prediction. The development of new technologies provides the motivation for appraising the status of the current weather radar system and identifying the most promising approaches for the development of its eventual replacement. The charge to the committee was: To determine the state of knowledge regarding ground-based weather surveillance radar technology and identify the most promising approaches for the design of the replacement for the present Doppler Weather Radar. Specifically, the committee will: Examine the state of the present radar technologies; Identify new processes for data analyses; and Estimate the maturity of the various capabilities and identify the most promising approaches.

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad The committee included experts in radar technologies, meteorological applications, computer-processing capabilities for data handling, and application to numerical models. To perform the charge, the committee held three information-gathering meetings. During the first meeting in April 2001, the sponsoring agencies [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Air Force (USAF), and U.S. Navy] provided briefings on their weather radar related activities and potential future needs. During the second and third meetings (September 2001 and November 2001), experts in radar design and application briefed the committee on current and anticipated developments. This report presents a first look at potential approaches for future upgrades to or replacements of the current weather radar system. The need, and schedule, for replacing the current system has not been established, but the committee used the briefings and deliberations to assess how the current system satisfies the current and emerging needs of the operational and research communities and identified potential system upgrades for providing improved weather forecasts and warnings. The time scale for any total replacement of the system (20- to 30-year time horizon) precluded detailed investigation of the designs and cost structures associated with any new weather radar system. The committee instead noted technologies that could provide improvements over the capabilities of the evolving NEXRAD system and recommends more detailed investigation and evaluation of several of these technologies. In the course of its deliberations, the committee developed a sense that the processes by which the eventual replacement radar system is developed and deployed could be as significant as the specific technologies adopted. Consequently, some of the committee’s recommendations deal with such procedural issues. The report is divided into seven chapters. Chapter 1 notes the role of radar as one important part of the broader weather and climate observing and predicting system. Chapter 2 presents a brief overview of the current, but evolving, NEXRAD system and describes some of the shortcomings that advanced radar and supporting technologies might help to overcome. Chapter 3 reviews those advanced technologies that appear to offer promising opportunities for improving upon the capabilities possessed by the NEXRAD system. Chapter 4 describes variety of network configurations and novel platforms that might be part of a future radar observing system. Then Chapter 5 considers ways in which the improved capabilities of the next generation radar system would enhance the products used to support the primary functions of weather observing and forecasting. Recommendations developed from the earlier discussions are summarized in Chapter 6, and Chapter 7 presents some concluding remarks. Because the subject of this report is radar technology, much of the text (especially chapter 3) uses highly technical terminology. Readers unfamiliar with this terminology may consult IEEE (1990), Barton et al. (1991), Doviak and

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad Zrnic (1993), Bringi and Chandrasekar (2001), or Skolnik (2001) for definitions and explanations. The findings in this report encompass a broad range of scientific and technological capabilities, some of which are assuredly within reach in the near term, and others of which are visionary. The feasibility of the more visionary capabilities depends upon a variety of factors such as the evolution of enabling technologies and advances in basic understanding. Although one cannot anticipate the specific advances that will emerge, rapid progress can be expected as a result of the step wise gains in scientific insight from the application of new technology and the feedback of that insight to further advances in technology. Moreover, further developments will depend upon the evolution of the political, social, and economic environment in the nation and the world. The technologies recommended in this report have the potential to mitigate some of the limitations of the NEXRAD system, but questions about technical feasibility remain, and benefit-cost analyses will be required to identify those approaches most suitable for the design of the future weather surveillance radar system. As a result the committee does not prioritize the recommendations, though it has grouped the recommendations into categories (Chapter 6) to facilitate any future prioritization. The committee wishes to acknowledge the assistance of those experts who helped the committee with its assessment of the promising directions for developing enhanced capabilities in the next generation weather radar system by providing information about evolving radar technologies and evolving applications of weather radar data: James Belville, Rit Carbone, Russell Cook, Tim Crum, Dustin Evancho, Stephen Del Greco, Jim Evans, John Garnham, Jamie Hawkins, Sheldon Katz, Jeff Kimpel, Witold Krajewski, Ed Mahoney, Dave McLaughlin, Peter Meischner, Robert Saffle, Charles Schilling, Merrill Skolnik, Dan Strawbridge, Mark Surmeir, Jim Wilson, and Dusan Zrnic. In addition, the committee expresses appreciation to Vaughan Turekian, study director, and to Carter Ford, Diane Gustafson, Elizabeth Galinis, and Rob Greenway for their able and energetic assistance in organizing and supporting the activities of the committee during the preparation of this report. Paul L.Smith Chair Committee on Weather Radar Technology Beyond NEXRAD

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: RICHARD E.CARBONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado STEVEN CLIFFORD, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado ANDREW CROOK, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado WITOLD F.KRAJEWSKI, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa LESLIE R.LEMON, Basic Commerce and Industries, Inc., Independence, Missouri MARGARET A.LEMONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado ANDREW L.PAZMANY, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release.

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad The review of this report was overseen by Douglas Lilly, University of Oklahoma. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad Contents     SUMMARY   1     Radar in the Atmospheric Observing and Predicting Systems,   2     The Current System,   3     Advanced Radar Technologies—Capabilities and Opportunities,   4     Network and Mobile Platforms,   5     Automated and Integrated Products,   6 1   ROLE OF RADAR IN THE WEATHER AND CLIMATE OBSERVING AND PREDICTING SYSTEM   8 2   THE CURRENT SYSTEM   12     The Nexrad Network,   12     Users and Uses of the Data and Products,   15     Shortcomings of the System,   17     The Evolving NEXRAD System,   20 3   ADVANCED RADAR TECHNOLOGIES—CAPABILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES   23     Frequency Allocation,   24     Data Quality Enhancements—Polarimetry and Agile Beams,   25     Phased Array Radars,   28     Signal Processing,   33

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Weather Radar Technology: Beyond Nexrad 4   NETWORKS AND MOBILE PLATFORMS   36     Auxiliary Short-Range Radars,   37     Radar Profilers,   39     Other Complementary Observations in an Integrated Network,   40     Mobile Radar,   41     Airborne Radars,   42     Space Based Radar,   43 5   AUTOMATED AND INTEGRATED PRODUCTS   46     Radar Coverage and Data Quality,   47     Diagnostic Products,   48     Nowcast Products,   48     Forecasts And Assimilation of Radar Data into NWP Models,   48     Longer-Range Forecasts and Climatology,   50     Data Archiving and Analysis,   51     Support to User Decision Processes,   52 6   FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   54     Group I: Radar Technologies,   55     Group II: Procedures,   58 7   CONCLUDING REMARKS: RADAR IN A TIME OF TERRORISM   62     REFERENCES   63     APPENDIXES     A   NEXRAD WSR-88D SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS   69 B   ACROYNYMS   73 C   COMMITTEE AND STAFF BIOGRAPHIES   76