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Cell phone towers to be used in tornado detection?

http://www.kfor.com/Global/story.asp?S=2080396


Cell phone towers may soon be equipped with small, but powerful, radars.

\"It'll be deployed as a network of radars that can then be used to provide a very high-resolution map of the atmosphere,\" said

Baxter Vieux, the director of the Natural Hazards and Disaster Research Center is working on the project. Within the next several months those radar units will be installed in four Oklahoma towns: Chickasha, Newcastle, Rush Springs and Lawton.

I don't know if it will work or not, honestly.

What's the gang think?
 
For low levels in the atmosphere, these radars will do a much better job than the 88D network. In theory, it should lead to better detection of tornadoes, but who knows if lead time would improve. The main advantage of this network will be low beam height and frequent scans. The radars are pretty weak, however, so range will be limited (why there will be a bunch!).

Much of the project deals with the programming behind the radars to create an adaptive sensor network. That is, the radars can adjust on the fly to focus on certain features... such as storms. If we have multiple radars at close range at a storm, we can use doppler wind retrieval to come up with the 3d wind field. If we know that, we can calculate convergence, vorticity, vertical wind speed,etc. Cool stuff.

Try:
http://www.casa.umass.edu/
http://casa.ou.edu/


Aaron
 
If the beam height is low and the radar intensity weak, how do they see into the storm? Sounds like a really interesting idea - - I can't imagine what kind of picture we'd have if every cell tower had a radar unit. If the DOW thought the marine units interfered - what about these? :)
 
If I'm not mistaken, NetRad is a collaborative effort under CASA (Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere) -- University of Mass., and the University of Oklahoma (via the Center for the Analysis and Prediction of Storms -- CAPS)... Other than placing low-power radars on cellphone towers, in an attempt to build a high-resolution weather radar network, I don't know much about NetRad...
 
There are a few WSFOs that will issue a tornado warning (IF the weather conditions warrent it..ie severe thunderstorm of interest) based on the downing of high tension power lines. Supposedly, these can only be broken by tornadic winds.
 
Originally posted by Mike Peregrine
If the DOW thought the marine units interfered - what about these? :)

Excellent point Mike. The DOW folks are very concerned about this project, because the NETRAD system uses the same X-band frequency range that the DOW's operate in. It will likely become a political battle at some point as the NETRAD system continues to expand. I've heard discussion suggesting the region where the NETRAD system is being installed (~ nw OK) may become too crowded in bandwidth for field research programs to operate there.

Glen
 
Ok, so we are moving from the phase where we can get research radars onto trucks for study, on to the phase where we can get mesoscale networks of radars able to provide better warnings.

Time to improve the warnings for the populated areas, and let the few doppler radars on wheels stay out in the hinterland for their reseach purposes.
 
Ok, so we are moving from the phase where we can get research radars onto trucks for study, on to the phase where we can get mesoscale networks of radars able to provide better warnings.

Time to improve the warnings for the populated areas, and let the few doppler radars on wheels stay out in the hinterland for their reseach purposes.

Actually, the NETRAD system is not a substitute for the mobile Doppler radar systems. It is a different type of radar, with a different application. The main goal of this new system is to get information in the region 'under' the 88D network - which can only 'see' near the surface close to the radar. With this supplemental system, we should be able to see near surface conditions for a much larger area. Also, the new radars planned to go in next year have a different scanning method that allows for much faster collection of radar information. The current 88D network only provides new information data sets ~ every 6 minutes.

BTW, you'll rarely see the DOWs operating in town - too many obstructions for one - so I'd hope that you haven't found their operations to be a nuisance.

Glen
 
Glen, I wasn't saying that the new small radars would be a substitute for the DOWs, I was just pointing out that we were on an evolutionary path, where the radars were shrinking and the capacity to use them was moving from experimentation to practical application. If the practical application necessitates that the experimenters are unable to work within certain ranges as easily any longer, then that is how it will have to be.

I know that the DOWs prefer the open range anyway, but the areas in central Oklahoma where these new small radars will first go up have always been fecund grounds for their studies, not to mention being in close proximity to home base. But they will, as I said, have plenty of places still to monitor storms without electromagnetic interference.
 
If the DOW thought the marine units interfered - what about these? :)

Excellent point Mike. The DOW folks are very concerned about this project, because the NETRAD system uses the same X-band frequency range that the DOW's operate in. It will likely become a political battle at some point as the NETRAD system continues to expand. I've heard discussion suggesting the region where the NETRAD system is being installed (~ nw OK) may become too crowded in bandwidth for field research programs to operate there.

Glen

Well if there's a permanent network of standing radars with low beam height in a given area, why would DOW measurements be needed in the area? I mean, if they're close enough to interfere, they should be close enough to gather the same images of the storms. Right?

I'm guessing this will be the hot controversial topic next year, replacing the "chasers VERSUS the media" topic from this year. If the radar coverage provided by the NETRAD beams can give (generally) the same results as DOW scans, then I see no reason for politics; this is only furthering our efforts to scan tornadic storms, which will help in the research and exploration of the origin of tornadoes.

If a political battle were to ensue soley over "we were here first," that would mean the mission hasn't been to better understand tornadoes for the safety of mankind, but rather, to be the first to do it.

That's sad.
 
In addition to scanning "beneath" the WSR-88D beam and with a higher density network, the other big improvement will be an adaptive scan strategy. Algorithms will be used to help the radars focus toward individual storms and significant weather phenomena and dynamically adapt their scanning strategies to oversample areas of "higher interest". This is a radar network operating in a true network sense!


greg
 
Well if there's a permanent network of standing radars with low beam height in a given area, why would DOW measurements be needed in the area? I mean, if they're close enough to interfere, they should be close enough to gather the same images of the storms. Right?

Unfortunately, the data resolution of the new NETRAD system (~ 500x500x100 m per volume) will not be in the ballpark of typical DOW data (50x50x50 m) or the Umass cloud radar data (up to 5x5x15 m), and as such will not be as useful for tornado research applications as DOW data.

If a political battle were to ensue soley over "we were here first," that would mean the mission hasn't been to better understand tornadoes for the safety of mankind, but rather, to be the first to do it.

As you probably know, the DOWS are now operated under CSWR, a non-profit organization - so they are somewhat out-of-the-loop. The folks designing NETRAD certainly won't be trying to compete with the DOW folks, but they are unlikely to bend over backwards to avoid conflicts either. It may simply come down to an engineering type solution -but since the NETRAD system doesn't yet exist in an operational sense it is not yet known how big a problem it will really be. Conflict is still a few years away.

As for the adaptive scanning capabilities that Greg mentioned, these are interesting concepts, but will require considerable development to become a reality. If the algorithm development with the 88D network is an indication, the NETRAD system adaptive scanning capabilities may not reach full potential for up to a decade from now. The concept is very forward thinking - which one must be to prepare for the future. But, there are a number of hurdles to overcome to make this aspect of the system a reality. Theoretically though, this system is a marvelous concept with applications far beyond just severe weather detection and tracking.
 
Glen,

Thanks for the insight.

BTW, what's the story behind your avatar? That's a nice tornado.
 
Glen,

Thanks for the insight.

BTW, what's the story behind your avatar? That's a nice tornado.

You're welcome, and I'm glad if you find it helpful. As for the avatar, that's from near Secor, IL on May 30th of this year. It develop an interesting kink near the end of its life - which I agree makes for a more interesting pic. It was a nice leisure chase, left ~ 2:30, home by 7:00 as everything had lined out by early evening. Family obligations (I'm a new dad) kept me from travelling down to the central plains for the May 29 action (though I nowcasted for my Dad and got him the S. KS cell that you and others enjoyed). Fortunately, the next day brought some action much closer to home.

Glen
 
The current 88D network only provides new information data sets ~ every 6 minutes.

Glen

Just a minor correction here... The new VCP12 (Err, I think it's 12), newly released this year, allows for a much faster volume scan (~4 minutes compared to 6 minutes) and scans more layers near the surface, which allows better detection of the vertical extent of any rotation.
 
The current 88D network only provides new information data sets ~ every 6 minutes.

Glen

Just a minor correction here... The new VCP12 (Err, I think it's 12), newly released this year, allows for a much faster volume scan (~4 minutes compared to 6 minutes) and scans more layers near the surface, which allows better detection of the vertical extent of any rotation.

Thanks Jeff. Forgot about the new VCP, so when the radar is in that VCP mode you get low level scan elevations at 0.5, 0.9, 1.3 and 1.8 whereas the old VCP 11 had scans at 0.5, 1.5, and 2.4 nearer the surface. So, the low-level resolution is indeed improved, though still not allowing radars to see any closer to the surface than before. The faster scan rates of 4 minutes though will still pale in comparison to the phased array systems in NETRAD, with volume collection on the order of 30 seconds.

Glen
 
Thats not actually a bad idea. They'd be great for places with limited Doppler radar range, like northern British Columbia. The government or other organizations would probably be happy to fork out some money for a couple of those. Thats of course, pending if the ones tested in the US work out ok.
 
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