One of the most interesting things around here is the hi-tech/low-tech scenery. For example, where else can you see cutting edge weather radar systems juxtaposed with
oil rigs pump jacks?
Getting a bit closer to the blue radome reveals some unintentional comedic signage, probably meant to warn off the DOW (Doppler on Wheels) operators.
In case you are wondering, this is where I am, NOAA’s radar operations center in Norman:
NSSL’s National Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT) is the official facility where phased array technology will be tested and evaluated. PAR has the potential to provide revolutionary improvements in NWS tornado, severe storm, and flash flood warnings. The phased array radar is expected to eventually replace the current network of WSR-88D radars. Scientists at NSSL and across the nation will be able to remotely operate the phased array radar to collect data in support of their research. A new Radar Control Interface (RCI) is being developed to simplify radar control and data collection operations. Hardware and software design and development carried out at NSSL have made the NWRT a world-class research facility.
The SPY-1 Navy radar is being adapted for severe weather tracking. More here
Navy ships originally used AEGIS phased array radar (called SPY-1) technology to protect naval battle groups from missile threats. Researchers believe the same technology has great potential for increasing lead-time for tornado warnings.
In 2000, the U.S. Navy agreed to loan a phased array antenna to NSSL and provided the $10,000,000 in funding to help build the National Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT). The NWRT is a facility focused on developing faster and more accurate warning, analysis and forecast techniques for severe and hazardous weather using phased array and also upgraded WSR-88D radar technology. The National Weather Service provided the transmitter and the additional funding from NOAA, OU, Lockheed Martin, and OSRHE purchased the environmental processor. In addition, the FAA provided initial funding for research, program management and initial upgrades, and the NWS has donated equipment. The NWRT became operational in September 2003, the first data were collected in May, 2004, and data sets were collected during the 2005 storm season.
This is the kind of visual output coming from it, and it is rather stunning:
Click for a much larger image
Phased array radar’s rapid scanning ability gives it the potential to be a multi-mission, adaptively scanning radar, meaning it is used for weather, wind profiling, and aircraft tracking and can adaptively change its scans to look at the most important features.
Look for this sort of technology to be the “next big thing” in television weather reports, though it may be just a bit over the heads of the average Joe.