The ELDORA/ASTRAIA (Electra Doppler Radar/Analyese Stereoscopic par Impulsions Aeroporte) airborne Doppler weather radar was recently placed in service by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Centre d'étude des Environnements Terrestre et Planetaires in France. After a multiyear development effort, the radar saw its first field tests in the TOGA COARE (Tropical Oceans–Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment) field program during January and February 1993. The ELDORA/ASTRAIA radar (herein referred to as ELDORA) is designed to provide high-resolution measurements of the air motion and rainfall characteristics of very large storms, storms that are frequently too large or too remote to be adequately observed by ground-based radars. This paper discusses the measurement requirements and the design goals of the radar and concludes with an evaluation of the performance of the system using data from TOGA COARE.

The performance evaluation includes data from two cases. First, observations of a mesoscale convective system on 9 February 1993 are used to compare the data quality of the ELDORA radar with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration P-3 airborne Doppler radars. The large-scale storm structure and airflow from ELDORA are seen to compare quite well with analyses using data from the P-3 radars. The major differences observed between the ELDORA and P-3 radar analyses were due to the higher resolution of the ELDORA data and due to the different domains observed by the individual radars, a result of the selection of flight track past the storm for each aircraft. In a second example, the high-resolution capabilities of ELDORA are evaluated using observations of a shear-parallel mesoscale convective system (MCS) that occurred on 18 February 1993. This MCS line was characterized by shear-parallel clusters of small convective cells, clusters that were moving quickly with the low-level winds. High-resolution analysis of these data provided a clear picture of the small scale of the storm vertical velocity structure associated with individual convective cells. The peak vertical velocities measured in the high-resolution analysis were also increased above low-resolution analysis values, in many areas by 50%–100%. This case exemplifies the need for high-resolution measurement and analysis of convective transport, even if the goal is to measure and parameterize the large-scale effects of storms. The paper concludes with a discussion of completion of the remaining ELDORA design goals and planned near-term upgrades to the system. These upgrades include an implementation of dual–pulse repetition frequency and development of real-time, in-flight dual-Doppler analysis capability.

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*NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research is supported by the National Science Foundation) Remote Sensing Facility, Boulder, Colorado.

+CNET, Centre d'étude des Environnements Terrestre et Planetaires, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.