Comparison of Airborne and Ground Based Weather Radars

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  • 1 National Severe Storms Laboratory, ESSA, Norman, Okla.
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Abstract

Radar PPI photodata on thunderstorm echoes, obtained in a cooperative FAA/NSSL experimental program utilizing a 3-cm airborne radar and a 10-cm ground radar, are examined within the framework of a simplified storm reflectivity model and applicable radar theory. The analysis and data comparison is generally restricted to thunderstorms of moderate intensity and size, and aircraft altitudes to 40,000 ft MSL. Within these boundaries, there is reasonable agreement between the model, the airborne radar data, and the ground radar data.

The results show that the airborne radar, operated under controlled conditions in the 30,000–40,000 ft altitude range with a grazing angle antenna tilt, can detect moderate storms to ranges of 200–300 n mi, and can provide storm pattern identification at ranges from 125–175 n mi. At altitudes between 20,000 and 30,000 ft, storm patterns can be identified at range of ≤100–150 n mi, and individual storms resolved within ranges of 50–100 n mi. At altitudes from 10,000–20,000 ft, storm patterns can he identified within ranges of about 75–125 n mi, and excellent resolution of individual storms can be obtained between 20 and 70 n mi.

The compatability of airborne radar performance deduced analytically by a simple computational technique with that provided under actual flight conditions suggests that a suitably designed computer program could provide accurate estimates of radar performance for many potentially hazardous meteorological situations.

Abstract

Radar PPI photodata on thunderstorm echoes, obtained in a cooperative FAA/NSSL experimental program utilizing a 3-cm airborne radar and a 10-cm ground radar, are examined within the framework of a simplified storm reflectivity model and applicable radar theory. The analysis and data comparison is generally restricted to thunderstorms of moderate intensity and size, and aircraft altitudes to 40,000 ft MSL. Within these boundaries, there is reasonable agreement between the model, the airborne radar data, and the ground radar data.

The results show that the airborne radar, operated under controlled conditions in the 30,000–40,000 ft altitude range with a grazing angle antenna tilt, can detect moderate storms to ranges of 200–300 n mi, and can provide storm pattern identification at ranges from 125–175 n mi. At altitudes between 20,000 and 30,000 ft, storm patterns can be identified at range of ≤100–150 n mi, and individual storms resolved within ranges of 50–100 n mi. At altitudes from 10,000–20,000 ft, storm patterns can he identified within ranges of about 75–125 n mi, and excellent resolution of individual storms can be obtained between 20 and 70 n mi.

The compatability of airborne radar performance deduced analytically by a simple computational technique with that provided under actual flight conditions suggests that a suitably designed computer program could provide accurate estimates of radar performance for many potentially hazardous meteorological situations.

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