The highly successful fleet of Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radars is approaching its end of service, and research efforts are under way to inform a decision toward a possible WSR-88D replacement. A methodology to link radar design characteristics to impacts on how radar data are used to diagnose hazardous weather was developed through a unique partnership between radar-engineering innovations in radar simulations and National Weather Service (NWS) radar data interpretation expertise. Deep commitment to two-way learning across disciplines resulted in a methodology that is both efficient and highly relevant to the NWS hazardous weather warning program. The methodology presented in this paper is a model for revealing complex trade-offs between weather radar characteristics and their resultant impact on NWS data interpretation for threat identification. This qualitative methodology is presented in the context of a broader proof-of-concept study from which it was developed. Adapted for further research, it can support the crucial role of deriving quantitative radar design criteria that balance the trade-offs among radar capabilities, cost, and impact to users. That is, the proposed methodology supports the evaluation of candidates for a potential WSR-88D replacement and any necessary major system upgrades in the interim.
Defining the requirements for an operational weather radar system is ideally achieved with clearly identified trade-offs among cost, radar design characteristics, and impacts on user data interpretation. This work is an advancement of the historic evolution of weather radar development to support the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) mission, based on collaboration among researchers, radar engineers, and NWS forecasters. The methodology presented here is an adaptable tool for revealing these essential, but complex trade-offs, providing a roadmap for further studies toward the next-generation NWS weather radar fleet.
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