The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is an ideal location for such a demonstration testbed. The DFW area population is over 6.5 million, the 4th largest in the U.S., and is the fastest growing major metropolitan area in the country, adding nearly 1.3 million since 2000. Dallas-Fort Worth is home to two major airports, including DFW, the third busiest airport in the world, numerous regional airports, several major interstates and many large sports complexes. Its Gross Metro Product is near $400B, which is attractive for commercial partners seeking markets for value-added products. It experiences a wide range of hazardous weather and air quality in all four seasons, and is also vulnerable to local flooding. Its area of 9,286 square miles gives it a spatial dimension important for numerical weather prediction capability.
The Urban Demonstration Network will be funded and operated by a consortium of local and federal government and private sector partners. CASA is the lead institution and is investing over $2.5 million into the initial radar systems, deployment, and real-time operations. The North Central Texas Council of Governments will take the lead locally, providing operational support and recruiting area partners. Other partners include government agencies such as the National Weather Service, specifically its Southern Region and Fort Worth Forecast Office, and local universities such as the University of Texas at Arlington. Additional partners will include those mentioned above who may enhance the observing networks.
In addition to providing high-spatial, high-temporal radar and other data to users in real time for warning operations, the DFW testbed is expected to be the ideal research platform, with major research thrusts including convective initiation, quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE)/quantitative precipitation forecasting (QPF), fusion of, for example, satellite and radar data, urban hydrology, and urban-scale numerical modeling and data assimilation. This research will also help the NWS achieve its warn-on-forecast vision (NRC, 2010). It is hoped that the DFW Urban Demonstration Network, through its multi-university, cross-disciplinary partnerships and university-government-private sector collaborations, will provide a model for how other metropolitan areas can invest in observational consortiums for operational and research missions that benefit public safety and economic security.