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Microburst Wind Structure and Evaluation of Doppler Radar for Airport Wind Shear Detection

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307
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Abstract

Doppler weather radar data from the Joint Airport Weather Studies (JAWS) Project are used to determine the horizontal and vertical structure of airflow within microbursts. Typically, the associated downdraft is about 1 km wide and begins to spread horizontally at a height below 1 km. The median time from initial divergence at the surface to maximum differential wind velocity across the microburst is 5 min. The height of maximum differential velocity is ∼75 m. The median velocity differential is 22 m s−1 over an average distance of 3.1 km. The outflow is asymmetric, averaging twice as strong along the maximum shear axis compared to the minimum axis.

Doppler radar could be an effective means for identifying microbursts and warning aircraft of wind shear hazards. For microburst detection such a radar must be able to measure wind velocities in clear air as well as in heavy rain and hail. Scan update rates should be approximately every 2 min and the lowest few hundred meters of the atmosphere must be observed. Ground clutter must be considerably reduced from levels typically obtained with present Doppler radars. New antenna technology and signal processing techniques may solve this problem. Automated range and velocity unfolding is required, as well as automated identification and dissemination techniques.

Abstract

Doppler weather radar data from the Joint Airport Weather Studies (JAWS) Project are used to determine the horizontal and vertical structure of airflow within microbursts. Typically, the associated downdraft is about 1 km wide and begins to spread horizontally at a height below 1 km. The median time from initial divergence at the surface to maximum differential wind velocity across the microburst is 5 min. The height of maximum differential velocity is ∼75 m. The median velocity differential is 22 m s−1 over an average distance of 3.1 km. The outflow is asymmetric, averaging twice as strong along the maximum shear axis compared to the minimum axis.

Doppler radar could be an effective means for identifying microbursts and warning aircraft of wind shear hazards. For microburst detection such a radar must be able to measure wind velocities in clear air as well as in heavy rain and hail. Scan update rates should be approximately every 2 min and the lowest few hundred meters of the atmosphere must be observed. Ground clutter must be considerably reduced from levels typically obtained with present Doppler radars. New antenna technology and signal processing techniques may solve this problem. Automated range and velocity unfolding is required, as well as automated identification and dissemination techniques.

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