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AGILE BEAM PHASED ARRAY RADAR FOR WEATHER OBSERVATIONS D.S. Zrnic1, J.F. Kimpel1, D.E. Forsyth1, A. Shapiro2, G. Crain2, R. Ferek3, J. Heimmer4,

W. Benner5, T.J. McNellis6, R.J. Vogt7

1) National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman OK

2) University of Oklahoma, Norman OK

3) Office of Naval Research, Arlington?

4) Basic Commerce Industries, Moorestown NJ

5) Federal Aviation Administration, Atlantic City NJ

6) Lockheed Martin Corporation, Moorestown, NJ

7) NOAA, Radar Operations Center, Norman OK

Capsule: Electronic beam steering enables the multi-mission phased array radar to

rapidly and adaptively survey the atmosphere while detecting and tracking aircraft.

Corresponding author: Dusan Zrnic, NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, 120

David L. Boren Blvd, Norman OK, 73072. E-mail: [emailprotected]

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Abstract

Weather radars with conventional antenna cannot provide desired volume scans updates

at intervals of one minute or less which is essential for significant improvement in

warning lead time of impending storm hazards. The agile beam Multi-Mission Phased

Array Radar (MPAR) discussed herein is one potential candidate that can provide faster

scanning. It also offers a unique potential for multipurpose use to not only sample

weather, but support air traffic needs, and track non cooperative airplanes; thus, making it

an affordable option. After introducing the basic idea behind electronic beam steering, the

needs for frequent observations of convective weather are explained. Then, examined are

advantages of the Phased Array Radar (PAR) for weather monitoring and improving data

quality. To explore and develop weather-related applications of the PAR, a National

Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT) has been established in Norman, OK. The NWRT’s

main purpose is to address the advanced capabilities anticipated within the next decade so

that these could be projected to a possible network of future weather radars. Examples of

data illustrating advantages of this advanced radar are shown, and forthcoming plans are

discussed.

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INTRODUCTION

Detailed precipitation and wind data in weather systems over the United States are

presently derived from a network of weather surveillance radars officially designated as

Weather Surveillance Radar 1988 Doppler (WSR-88D, Crum et al. 1998). Additional

localized weather surveillance at major airports is provided by special radars such as the

Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR, Michelson et al. 1990) and Airport

Surveillance Radar (ASR, Weber and Stone 1995). When operationally introduced in the

early 1990s, WSR-88D represented a quantum leap in observing capabilities over the

previous non-Doppler weather radars (Doviak and Zrnic 1993). High-resolution,

accurate, multi-parameter observation by WSR-88D enables detection of mesocyclones

(Stumpf et al. 1998; Lee and White 1998) and tornadic vortex signatures (TVS, Brown et

al. 1978, Mitchell et al. 1998), and even a limited warning of their imminence. Upon

deployment of the WSR-88D, the average tornado warning lead time increased abruptly

from ~7 to 10 min and stands currently at ~13 min. Overall estimates are that the WSR-

88D network reduced tornado-related deaths by 45% and injuries by 40% (Sutter and

Simmons 2005).

The desirability and feasibility of adding polarimetric capability to WSR-88D has

been well established (Zrnic and Ryzhkov 1999; Zrnic et al. 2001) and it is expected to

be incorporated into the existing network starting in 2009. This would further enhance the

accuracy and versatility of WSR-88D data products while providing additional

information about precipitation types.

Although NOAA’s WSR-88D network is continuously improving, it is

approaching its 20-year engineering design life span. The NEXRAD product

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improvement investments and sustaining engineering modifications have significantly

extended the service life of the WSR-88D, with current NEXRAD Program estimates

projecting no significant supportability issues through at least 2020. Options for

successor technology include: upgrades and refurbishments to further extend the service;

replacement of all or parts of the WSR-88Ds with conventional radar systems;

replacement with agile beam phased array radar; and augmentation or replacement with

short wavelength radar networks (Brotzge et al. 2006).

In spite of their impressive performance, present Doppler weather radars have

limitations. Their mechanical scanning arrangement enforces a sequential beam sweep

through the designated cycle and precludes (because of beam smearing) update of volume

scans at rates faster than about every four minutes. Further, it is not feasible to adaptively

sample the atmosphere at specific locations, thus hindering intensive observations of

regions with potential for severe weather. To achieve the goals of the National Weather

Service for improvements in warnings and forecasts (NOAA 2005 – Strategic Plan),

advanced concepts in atmospheric remote sensing must be explored.

Phased Array Radar (PAR) with agile electronic beam steering is a prime

candidate for superior observation of the atmosphere. A network of such radars is

recommended for consideration by the National Academies Committee on Weather

Radar Technology beyond NEXRAD (National Academies 2002) and justified in the

report by the Joint Action Group from the Office of Federal Coordinator for

Meteorological Services (2006). That report strongly endorses multi-function (herein

referred to as multi-mission) phased array radar (MPAR) for sampling weather,

controlling air traffic, and tracking non-cooperative airplanes (Weber et al. 2006). The

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concept of multi-mission fast scanning radar has been explored from the aviation

perspective and the reader is referred to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

document “Terminal Area Surveillance System” (TASS 1997) containing many articles

on the subject. Herein we are concerned with applications of the PAR technology to

observations of weather. Thus the acronym PAR refers to the phased array radar

technology in general; MPAR is a possible future multi-mission phased array radar

specifically tailored for monitoring weather, serving aviation needs, and tracking of non

cooperative objects (see the companion article by Weber et al. 2007 that also presents a

futuristic design of such radar transmitting simultaneously three beams each at a different

frequency); NWRT (National Weather Radar Testbed) introduced in later sections is the

proof of concept PAR in Norman, OK.

AGILE BEAM PHASED ARRAY RADAR

The fundamental difference between agile beam PAR and conventional radars

that use a rotating parabolic antenna is in formation and steering of the beam. The

parabolic antenna surface shapes and directs the beam, while the continuous physical

rotation of the reflector around a vertical axis sweeps the beam through a volume of

space surrounding the radar (Fig. 1). The reflector is tilted to change the angle of the

beam’s center from the horizontal. In contrast the PAR beam is formed and directed

electronically by superimposing outputs from an array of radiators. This is achieved by

controlling the phase and the on-off timing (pulsing) of the electromagnetic field

generated by each radiator relative to the phases and pulses of the other radiators in the

array. However, steering the beam by more than ± 45o from the axis (normal) of a planar

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array is avoided to limit the effect of beam broadening that is inversely proportional to

the cosine of the angle between beam direction and the axis normal to the array. Further,

at large off axis angles radiating (grating) lobes appear that compete with the main lobe.

Therefore more than one radiating panel is required for complete 360o probing in

azimuth. The PAR in Fig. 1 has four panels.

Each panel of the PAR has thousands (ten thousand to achieve a 1 deg broadside

beam width at a 10 cm wavelength) of solid state modules containing transmit-receive

(T/R) elements. Each element transmits a small portion of the total beam energy and

receives a portion of the backscattered energy. Electronically controlled attenuators,

phase shifters, switches, filters, analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), and digital

processors are the fundamental components underlying advances in PAR design and

applications. New generations of these electronic components have enabled rapid and

accurate formation and steering of the radar beams. This beam-steering capability in turn

permits multiple radar functions to be performed with the same radar unit. The function-

specific beams of a multi-mission PAR can be interlaced in time or even generated

simultaneously (Weber et al. 2007).

PAR technology has been used operationally by the U.S. military since the 1970s.

Principal applications are for simultaneous tracking of multiple targets coming from

many directions. Extensive technical capability was developed and other applications

such as for aviation weather, begun to be explored (Katz and Nespor 1993).

Conventional surveillance weather radars have a mechanical control of beam

position, and dwell a relatively long time (~ 50 ms) to obtain a sufficient number of

independent echo samples for accurate estimates of Doppler spectral moments. Thus, the

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volume update times are dictated by two limitations: 1) the inertia of the mechanically

steered antenna, and 2) the correlation time of weather signals. In contrast, phased array

Doppler radars, with specially designed waveforms and/or processing of signals, offer the

prospect of routinely sampling the atmosphere with volume scan rates an order of

magnitude faster than the fastest (4 min) operational scan mode of the WSR-88D Doppler

radars.

Transmission and processing of wideband signals (modulated signals in Fig. 1)

can be done on either conventional radar or PAR. Advantages of such signals are two.

One applies to transmitters that have more stringent limitations on peak power than on

pulse duration as are radars with solid state transmission modules; the article by Weber et

al. (2007) suggests compressing the received wide band long pulses for achieving desired

range resolution and increasing signal to noise ratio (SNR). The other advantage is to

radically decrease the dwell time for generating estimates by processing wide band

signals. Integration of estimates over the duration of the short pulse provides reduction of

variance equal to the product of pulse duration with its bandwidth. This we discus next

and demonstrate that the full advantage of wideband signals for rapid volume update can

only be achieved with the PAR. Suppose that two pulses separated by 1 ms are

transmitted in the same direction. Further, the pulses are 1 μs long and have wide

bandwidth, say 20 MHz, suitable for pulse compression (Bucci et al. 1997). Upon

reception each pulse is compressed to 50 ns so that there are 20 compressed returns (sub-

pulses) in the 1 μs interval. Then, from a pair of sub-pulse returns it is possible to obtain

an estimate of the Doppler velocity and average twenty of these in range to reduce the

variance of the estimate. If the antenna beamwidth is 1o, it follows that coverage of the

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contiguous 360o could be achieved at a rate of 500o s-1. With the PAR, the two returns

from the two pulses would come from the same resolution volume; then the beam would

switch to a new position. With the conventional radar the beam would move by 0.5o

between each measurement thus the returns would come from overlapping but displaced

(by 0.5o in azimuth) resolution volumes and would suffer from decorrelation blues. That

is, the displacement would cause a 30% drop in correlation (assuming a Gaussian antenna

pattern with one degree beamwidth, Doviak and Zrnic 1993, p 517) between two

consecutive samples. Consequently, the effective SNR at such high rotation rate would be

less than 0.7/0.3 (i.e., 3.8 dB) regardless of its true value. Moreover, at a 10 cm

wavelength this decorrelation would register as a huge spectrum width of 6.7 m s-1

overwhelming the other contributors (e.g., turbulence, shear) to this variable.

NEEDS FOR FREQUENT OBSERVATIONS

Agile beam PAR offers benefits to both research and operations. Frequent

volumetric data provided with the PAR are needed for observations of short-lived

phenomena, retrieval of winds, initialization/assimilation into storm scale numerical

weather prediction models, and other applications.

Observation of short-lived hazardous phenomena

The PAR is well suited for repetitive rapid observations of hazardous weather

phenomena. High temporal resolution data in real-time offers immediate and tangible

societal benefits through improved hazard-warning (e.g., microburst and mesocyclone

detection), nowcasting, and guidance for aviation operations. For example, Wolfson and

Meuse (1993) compare low elevation volume scans at 3 min intervals with rapid scans at

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1 min intervals. They demonstrated that, on the average, lead-times for microburst

detection increased from about 2.2 min (at 3 min updates) to 5.2 min (at 1 min updates).

Additionally, rapid high-resolution measurements can potentially aid in the

formulation and verification of theories of tornadogenesis. Observations of the Dimmitt,

Texas tornado of 2 June 1995 (Rasmussen et al. 2000), with an airborne Doppler radar

revealed that the time scale for tornadogenesis was exceedingly small; the average

tangential velocity in the vortex at 700 m radius and 3 km AGL increased from 7.5 m s-1

to 20.3 m s-1 in a period of 78 s. This rapid evolution, which might typify tornadogenesis,

is impossible to observe with conventional scanning radars. To fully detect the process of

tornadogenesis, scan times of roughly 20−30 s are required in a relatively small volume

crucial for spawning the tornado; the shape and size of that volume are crucial in tornado

genesis process but to this day remain an enigma.

Retrieval of winds

Carbone and Carpenter (1983) and Carbone et al. (1985) discussed the need for

rapid scan Doppler radar to sample the high temporal variability of convective elements;

these have large amounts of kinetic energy on spatial scales of 1−2 kilometers and 1−3

minutes (Knight and Squires, 1982; Battan 1980; Carbone et al. 1990). Therefore, to

properly capture these energy-containing structures, it is desirable to know the wind-

speed in at least two-dimensions and (especially) vertical velocity at less than one-min

intervals.

A number of techniques have been developed to retrieve the complete wind vector

field using reflectivity and/or radial velocity data from a single Doppler radar (Sun and

Crook 1994, Shapiro et al. 1995 and 2003, Xu et al. 1994a,b, 1995, Laroche and

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Zawadzki 1995, Qiu and Xu 1996). In conventional thermodynamic retrievals (Gal-Chen

1978, Hane and Scott 1978) the accuracy of the retrieved perturbation pressure (and

subsequently the temperature) depends on how well the time variation of the local

velocity field can be determined. Crook’s (1994) numerical experiments indicate

substantial reduction in errors if temporal sampling of these fields is faster. Most

importantly, many of the retrievals either make explicit or implicit use of temporal

constraints, for example, velocity stationarity, Taylor's frozen turbulence hypothesis, or

temporally constant forcing − constraints whose validity degrade with time. Recent

retrieval experiments with cold front data gathered by the Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW)

research radars (Shapiro et al. 2003) have focused on the role of temporal resolution.

Dual-Doppler analyses were used to verify the cross-beam (azimuthal) velocity

component obtained from the retrieval algorithm. Fig. 2 shows a dramatic reduction in

RMS error of the tangential (cross-beam) wind if the volume scan time decreases from

four min (characterizing the fastest operational WSR-88D scan rates) down to one min

(the shortest time to cover a volume of 150o in azimuth and about 9o in elevation in that

DOW field deployment).

Initialization of cloud and meso-scale numerical prediction models

A further application of frequent 3-D radar data is in the initialization and

assimilation of storm and meso-scale numerical weather prediction models. Assimilation

of clear air boundary layer data in cases where sea breeze fronts, inland fronts or

boundaries from pre-existing convection are present may improve the timing and location

of convective initiation, a key problem in the numerical prediction of severe weather. In

addition, assimilation of radar data and derived fields when convective weather is present

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can potentially reduce the pervasive "spin-up" problem in numerical weather prediction,

that is, reduce the time for model physics to generate convective elements within

nonconvective background fields. A landmark study in this direction involved the

simulation of the 20 May 1977 Del City, OK tornadic storm by Lin et al (1993). In that

study, initial forecast fields were prepared with dual-Doppler analyzed winds and an

associated thermodynamic retrieval. Discrepancies developed between the observed and

simulated storm that were attributed to low update rate. More recently, Xue et al. (2006)

used simulated thunderstorm data (Del City supercell sounding) and an Ensemble square-

root Kalman Filter assimilation procedure to test the impact of volume scan rate and data

coverage on the quality of analyses and forecasts. It was found that assimilating

volumetric data from a single virtual radar at 1 min intervals provided significantly better

analyses and forecasts than assimilations with less frequent updates (2.5 min or 5 min).

Lightning channels

It is known that, at the 10-cm wavelength, the lightning plasma acts as a very

good conductor for 10s to 100s of milliseconds (Williams et al. 1989). During this time,

continuous current flows through the channel causing strong reflections of

electromagnetic waves. But because the channel branches over large volumes, so far it

has not been feasible to map its three-dimensional structure in the fields of Doppler

spectral moments. With the PAR it should be possible to cover a sector in azimuth and

elevation of 8 by 15 deg in about 100 ms. By working backward in time, the precise map

of the lightning channel could reveal the location of regions with highest values of

electric field where lightning initiates. This could also help determine potential for

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lightning in developing convection and the influence of electrical fields on the evolution

of hydrometeors.

ADVANTAGES OF THE PAR FOR WEATHER OBSERVATIONS

The myriad advantages of the agile beam and wide bandwidth PAR are

summarized herein and illustrated in Fig. 3.

Fast adaptive scanning

PAR beam agility permits fast adaptive scanning and signal processing to match

the weather situation. Thus the PAR can vary its focus and emphasis over different parts

of the scan volume, e.g., dwelling longer on regions of a storm where tornadoes are likely

to form, to collect enough samples for spectral analysis (Zrnic and Doviak 1975), while

scanning benign sectors faster (Fig. 3). It can also frequently revisit critical regions to

track the rapid evolution of severe and hazardous phenomena, including tornadoes.

Frequent measurements of meteorological hazards (e.g., tornadoes, mesocyclones,

hailstorms) can lead to better warnings and predictions of the trends in these phenomena.

The elevation angle of the beam can be programmed to follow the true horizon,

say the blockage pattern of ground objects (i.e., buildings, trees, etc. see Fig. 3). This

allows compensation of the spectral moments and polarimetric variables for beam

blockage effects (Smith and Doviak 1984). Further, the beam positioned at its lowest

elevation angle provides the best estimates of rainfall at the ground. By avoiding known

ground clutter, minimum energy is wasted in regions of blocked beam.

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Absence of beam smearing

PARs provide high (intrinsic) angular resolution of the beam because there is no

smearing due to antenna rotation. This mitigates the effects of ground clutter, and also

improves the data quality of spectral moments that in turn leads to better estimates of

winds from one or two Doppler radars. The ground clutter spectrum width is determined

only by the motions of the scatterers on the ground and therefore is smaller than what a

rotating antenna would measure. This permits more effective ground clutter canceling

and better compensation of biases (caused by clutter filtering) in the polarimetric

variables and spectrum widths of weather signals. Better recovery of overlaid second trip

signals is possible because the ground clutter spectrum occupies a smaller portion of the

unambiguous velocity interval.

Because beam smearing is not a factor, the spectrum width estimates of weather

signals would have one less bias. Typical rotation rates produce a 1.5 times larger

effective beam width. If wind shear is constant across the beam and it is the only

spectrum broadening mechanism then radar with such rotating antenna would measure

1.5 times larger spectrum width than radar with a stationary antenna (Doviak and Zrnic

1993). In case that turbulence is the only contributor and its outer scale is large

compared to the transverse dimension of the beam the increase in measured spectrum

width would be (1.5)1/3 times (Doviak and Zrnic 1993). Similarly in a polarimetric PAR

the correlation coefficient between the copolar and cross-polar signals would be less

affected by gradients of differential phase across the beam. For example take again the

1.5 times increase in effective beam width, a 60o change in differential phase over one

degree in azimuth (such large gradients have been documented by Ryzhkov 2007), and an

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intrinsic cross correlation coefficient ρhv = 1 (upper value for drizzle). Under these

conditions radar with a stationary beam width of 1o would measure a ρhv of 0.95

(Ryzhkov 1007, eq 38) which indicates precipitation other than hail. The same radar with

a rotating antenna would measure a ρhv of 0.89 which is outside precipitation range

(except for large hail). Note that the larger bias causes the classification of hydrometeor

schemes more confusion and it is also much harder to estimate and eliminate. Moreover,

absence of beam smearing reduces the standard errors in estimates of Doppler velocity

and polarimetric variables.

Retrieval of transverse winds

It may be possible to measure transverse (to the beam) winds using the spaced

antenna approach. In it the antenna is illuminating a volume and reception is made at two

or more sub arrays of the antenna. The backscattering volume produces a diffraction

pattern that, due to transverse winds, drifts over the sub arrays. Cross correlation of the

signals from two sub arrays has a maximum at a time lag inversely proportional to the

transverse velocity of the scatterers. The technique has been applied to wind profiling

radars and is being suggested for phased array weather radars (Zhang and Doviak 2006).

Further, it has potential to separate the transverse wind and shear contribution from the

turbulent contribution to the cross correlation function.

Weather surveillance, vertical profiling of horizontal winds, and tracking of objects

Beam multiplexing allows interspersing a wind profiling mode of operation with

regular long-range surveillance. For a fraction of a second the beam can illuminate the

atmosphere a few km above the radar, then return to surveillance mode for several

minutes and alternate between these two modes. Doppler spectra from many of such

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observations can be combined to obtain winds from altitudes where signals are

detectable.

It is also possible, while probing a precipitation event, to interweave a sequence

of beam positions so that weather characteristics along the path of objects such as aircraft

or balloons can be simultaneously obtained with radar and in-situ instruments. This

capability would facilitate comparisons of in situ aircraft observations with radar

measurements sorely needed for microphysical and electrification studies.

Moreover, the PAR can track weather balloons and estimate environmental winds (Zrnic

et al. 1988) while making observations of weather phenomena.

Improved measurements of rainfall and retrieval of refractivity

An ongoing challenge in radar hydrology is the reduction of temporal sampling

errors in accumulated rainfall maps, especially when maps of high spatial resolution are

desired, as in urban areas (Fabry et al. 1994; Anagnostou and Krajewski 1999). Rapid

scanning can reduce temporal sampling errors in quantitative precipitation estimates,

leading to improved runoff estimation, flash flood forecasting, and river-stage forecasts.

Returns of the ground contain information for retrieving the fields of the

refractive index (Fabry 2004). The phase change of the returns over time is proportional

to the cumulative change in the refractive index, caused mainly by change in humidity,

along the beam path. For a mechanically steered antenna it is impractical to repetitively

direct the beam at exactly the same locations. Slight offsets from nominal positions

occur; hence one resorts to analyzing returns from multiple pulses. In contrast, because

the PAR can direct the beam at exactly same location and keep it stationary (Cheong et

al. 2007), it suffices to examine returns from a single pulse per beam direction. Thus,

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errors in humidity retrieval are reduced with concomitant savings in data storage and

computations.

Reduced maintenance and improved availability

Whereas the WSR-88D consistently achieves a superb service availability of

99.5%, two significant points of failure in traditional radar systems are the transmitter

and the mechanism for pointing the antenna. The WSR-88D Radar Data Acquisition

system (transmitter, receiver, signal processor, and antenna system) accounts for the

majority of radar outages (for the RDA mean time between failures (MTBF) is 1275

hours and mean time to repair is 6.7 hours). In the PAR, transmitter modules are

numerous and integrated within the active phase array transmit/receive (T/R) elements.

The "usable" MTBF of individual devices is generally 106 hours. In case of failure of

some T/R modules there is gradual degradation of performance compared to the total loss

that occurs if the standard transmitter breaks down. The MTBF of individual devices gets

statistically averaged across the many independently operating radiators in the phased

array, for which typically 10% can randomly fail before any significant degradation is

experienced in the radar performance. Electronic pointing of the antenna eliminates the

electromechanical pointing system; thus there is no downtime due to failures in gears,

motors, and servo systems.

NATIONAL WEATHER RADAR TESTBED

To test the expected advantages, asses the utility, explore the uses of phased array

technology, and to lay a foundation for application of weather radar beyond the current

WSR-88D, a National Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT) was established in Norman, OK

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(Forsyth et al. 2005). This NWRT was developed by a government/university/industry

team consisting of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National

Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), the Tri-Agencies’ (Department of Commerce,

Defense & Transportation) Radar Operations Center (ROC), the United States Navy’s

Office of Naval Research, Lockheed Martin Corporation, the University of Oklahoma’s

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and School of Meteorology, the

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the Federal Aviation Administration’s

William J. Hughes Technical Center and Basic Commerce and Industries, Inc..

The NWRT uses a converted Navy SPY-1A phased array antenna, a modified

WSR-88D transmitter and a custom designed controller/processor system. The antenna is

comprised of 4,352 elements that steer the beam normally up to ± 45o in azimuth from

the array axis. The antenna is tilted 10 degrees in elevation allowing for zenith scans,

although with a wider beamwidth (at zenith the beamwidth is 8.6o) and the center of the

array is located 40 feet above ground level. The antenna is mounted on a pedestal

capable of rotating the antenna at 18o s-1. A 90o sector can be scanned in azimuth without

moving the pedestal. Elevation scans are accomplished using electronic scanning. Other

pertinent characteristics of the NWRT are

a) Transmitting antenna diameter: ≈ 3.66 m ( ≈ circular aperture),

b) Wavelength: λ = 0.0938 m,

c) Transmitting beamwidth: ≈ 1.5o, (2.1o at 45o from beam center and no taper of

power is applied across the array on transmission),

d) Receiving beam width: ≈ 1.66o, (larger than beam width on transmission due to a

taper for reducing side lobes),

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e) Transmitter power and pulse width: ≈ 750 kW peak and 1.57 μs or 4.71 μs.

f) Sensitivity: reflectivity of 5.9 dBZ at 50 km produces a SNR=0 dB.

This PAR supports oversampling in range by a factor of 10 (i.e, samples in range can be

spaced at intervals equal one tenth of the pulse length), it can record time series data, and

is controlled remotely.

Next we present examples of the unique weather-observing capability of the

instrument.

Beam multiplexing

The agile beam phased array system can maximize efficient use of radar resources

by employing a visionary scheme proposed by Smith et al. (1974). First, the PAR

transmits two consecutive pulses in the same direction so that an estimate of

autocorrelation and power can be obtained. Then, while the scatterers in the resolution

volumes are reshuffling into an independent configuration, the PAR can switch its beam

to another direction. From there a second pair of samples is obtained to estimate spectral

moments; then the beam continues to other directions and returns to the original direction

after the signal is no longer correlated (many ms later).

An experiment was conducted to demonstrate and verify beam multiplexing

(BMX) on 2 May 2005. A 28o sector in azimuth was scanned using two scanning

strategies. First is the BMX with two 14o contiguous sectors. In each sector, the PAR is

beam multiplexed over beam positions as demonstrated in Fig. 5 until 32 pairs of returns

are accumulated from each beam position (and from each range locations). Because the

PRT is 1 ms the acquisition time in this BMX mode is 1.792 s. The other scanning

strategy is a step scan, which was devised to probe the same 28o sector with 28 discrete

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beam positions; data from 64 pulses were collected before steering the beam to the next

azimuth location one degree apart. Therefore, the scan is similar to the conventional scan

with a mechanically rotating antenna; except no spectral broadening produced by antenna

motion (Doviak and Zrnic 1993) occurs. To make a comparison, data acquisition time of

BMX is set to be same as the time of step scan. Apparent in Fig. 6 are the much

smoother features in the velocity and reflectivity fields obtained with BMX; the pulse

pairs (averaged in this mode) are uncorrelated with each other whereas in the step scan

mode correlation between pairs is high. Quantitative evaluation of these data (Yu et al.

2006) reveals that at SNR > 10 dB reduction of variance is between a factor of 2 and 4.

Therefore, a proportionate increase in the speed of volume coverage is possible with the

BMX technique.

Tornadic storm

On 29 May 2004 at 20:48 CDT, a tornadic storm developing close to the NWRT

provided a good opportunity for collecting data. The reflectivity field exhibited a

classical hook echo and the Doppler velocity field contained well defined couplets toward

and away from the radar. In Fig. 7 a sequence of images obtained by the NWRT is

contrasted with two consecutive images obtained with the nearby WSR-88D. Circled are

three couplets of strong shear in azimuth. At the beginning of the sequence (top in Fig.

7) the middle couplet is clearly a tornadic vortex signature (TVS), the northern one is

marginally strong, whereas the southern one is a weak anticyclonic shear. On the rapidly

updated data of the NWRT it is evident that the anticyclonic shear intensifies into a TVS;

furthermore during these four minutes the northern shear weakens and almost dissipates.

These rapid evolutionary changes are missed in scans spaced by 4 min as seen on the

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display of the WSR-88D data (Fig.7). The storm was subsequently tracked as it produced

several tornadoes during its lifetime.

Severe hail storm

On 15 Aug 2006, a hail storm rapidly developed close to the PAR. Volume scans

over a 90o azimuth sector and over 42 elevation angles were collected every 28 s. A three

body scattering signature (Zrnic 1987) was evident for almost 14 min indicating large

hail. This signature is caused by forward scattering from a hail shaft to the ground,

backscattering from the ground to the hail shaft and then forward scattering from the hail

shaft to the radar. Vertical cross sections displayed in the range height indicator (RHI)

format (Fig. 8) demonstrate the rapid change of storm structure aloft (Heinselman et al.

2006). The time between images is slightly less than 2 min, i.e., fields are from every

fourth volume scan. Significant evolution of the storm is evident. The three body

scattering signature quickly descends to the ground in concert with the rapid collapse of

the core. Remarkable is the ~75 dBZ peak reflectivity factor in the core (fourth and fifth

image in the sequence). Furthermore, the area of reflectivity larger than 65 dBZ (in the

RHI, not shown) more than triples in 26 s. Note that with conventional scanning at about

4 to 5 min interval about every second or third image in Fig. 8 would be obtained. Such

sparse density could impede timely warnings.

PLANS

The immediate and potential benefits of phased array radar technology are

numerous. Still there are challenges to overcome if this technology is to realize its widest

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possible operational applications. Urgent studies to address pertinent PAR issues are

discussed next.

With beam agility and adaptive scans, the current NWRT could achieve a five-

fold increase in the speed of volume coverage. Nonetheless, to reach a ten-fold increase,

advanced signal designs and processing are required. Oversampling and whitening of

signals in range is a candidate for increasing the speed of volume coverage and reducing

the errors of estimates (Torres and Zrnic 2003). This technique is effective at large signal

to noise ratios and it will be explored. Dual frequency transmission and/or pulse

compression can increase the speed of volume coverage without sacrificing signal to

noise ratio. Thus, upgrades in the processing area would be the addition of a second

channel and a pulse compression (Mudukutore et al. 1998, Bucci et al. 1997) scheme.

Modifications on the system are being made to enable wind measurements

transverse to the beam. The technique to be evaluated is space antenna interferometry

(Zhang and Doviak 2006), that requires access to the signals from the left and right side

of the antenna aperture.

Ground clutter mitigation in the beam multiplex or any other mode with few

sample returns needs much study as classical filter solutions are inadequate. On the

NWRT, there are six receiving elements meant to suppress clutter from side lobes. The

suppression principle is as follows (Le et al. 2007). Received returns in the six elements

are weighted in amplitude and phase and then subtracted from the total return. With six

clutter suppressing elements the weights can be adjusted to cancel clutter from six

independent directions. The technique effectively removes clutter coming through side

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lobes but is not suited for eliminating main lobe clutter. Its capability for enhancing

weather observations will be evaluated.

High priority will be given to the development of a dual polarization agile beam

phased array antenna. This will start with a sub-array antenna of modest dimensions to

test the concept, investigate polarimetric issues (e.g., how far off axis can the beam point

without significant degradation of polarimetric measurements), and establish an

economically viable solution.

Scanning strategies that adaptively adjust beam direction to the location of

weather phenomena need to be developed. These will likely include periodic

surveillance followed by several high resolution scans whereby regions detected by the

surveillance scan would be interrogated in more detail.

Display, algorithm, and decision aid development are essential for handling the

improved temporal resolution data. We anticipate much study in this area.

Close communication and interaction with experts on data assimilation and

numerical models is paramount for extracting the most from this new technology. This

will be an ongoing evolutionary process and will continue along the well established

paths by these communities.

Multi-mission applications of the system for wind profiling, quantifying

turbulence, aircraft tracking, and plume profiling (i.e., measurements of smoke plumes,

volcanic ash clouds, chaff, or some other passive tracer released purposely or

inadvertently into the atmosphere) will be explored. The FAA evaluated the aircraft

tracking capability on the NWRT, but to fully test the multi-mission concept, a prototype

must be built (Weber et al. 2007). Detection of wake vortices at takeoff or landing is

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another task well matched to the phased array technology that will be subject of further

studies.

CONCLUSIONS

There have been many significant improvements in weather surveillance and air

traffic control since radar systems were first deployed for these applications. As valuable,

and even essential, as these applications have become, they are now poised for order-of-

magnitude improvement in performance. The enabling technology is the agile beam

PAR.

Benefits of the new PAR technology are many, and are key to providing the

improvements sought by the National Weather Service for service to the nation in the

21st Century. As stated in the NOAA 2005-2011 Strategic Plan, the NOAA "Weather

and Water Mission Goal" is focused on: reducing loss of life, injury, and damage to the

economy; and providing better, quicker and more valuable weather and water information

to support improved decisions. Some of these goals will, in part, be achieved through

evolutionary improvements of the existing WSR-88D network.

There are at least two desirable features that cannot be achieved with the

improved WSR-88D technology: 1) update of volume scans at intervals of one minute or

less, and 2) multi-mission use to sample weather, control air traffic, and track non

cooperative airplanes. The agile beam phased array technology can satisfy these two

demands. Further, it can adaptively provide high resolution scans to scrutinize and

anticipate small-scale dangerous phenomena, such as intense vortices or wind shears.

Thus, agile adaptive scan could improve lead times of warnings. It would also provide

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valuable data to storm scale models perhaps enabling warnings to be issued based on

forecasts in addition to those based on extrapolation of observations. Improved data

quality offered by absence of beam smearing is another definitive advantage. The largest

economic benefit would ensue if PAR serves multi-missions.

To explore and develop weather related applications of the PAR a National

Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT) has been established in Norman, OK. The current

NWRT has neither the beamwidth nor the dual polarization capability of the WSR-88D.

These features are under investigation. Meanwhile the NWRT’s main purpose is to

address the advanced capabilities anticipated in the next decade so that these could be

projected to a possible network of future PARs. Investigators from universities and

government laboratories will have access to all data collected by the PAR. Moreover, the

NWRT is open to experimentalists for scientific and/or educational projects. To judge

the merit of proposed research, help equitably assign resources, and allocate the facility,

an advisory panel of experts has been formed. Investigators wishing access to the NWRT

should contact Doug Forsyth (E-mail [emailprotected]) at the National Severe

Storms Laboratory.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS : We acknowledge the support of our various

organizations in funding and helping to implement the National Weather Radar Testbed

(Phased Array). The dedicated work of Bob Staples, Mark Benner, Chris Curtis, and

Wayne Sabin, Jim Melody, Paul Bumgarder, Tim Hughes, and others from Lockheed

Martin Corporation improved the data quality. Mike Schmidt, Richard Wahkinney, John

Carter, and the Radar Operations Center’s radar engineers lead by W. Urell and B.

Ballard worked on adapting an existing WSR-88D transmitter for the NWRT. Allen

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Zahrai, Rick Adams, David Preignitz, John Thompson, and Dan Suppes, maintained and

evolved the system, while Kurt Hondl integrated the WDSS-II. Mark Campbell

(Lockheed Martin Corporation) along with Bob Blasewitz and Tim Mease (Basic

Commerce Industries), provided continuing support of the NWRT, and Pam Heinselman

made valuable suggestions that made the paper better and provided analysis and elements

for constructing Fig. 7. Three anonymous reviewers each provided focused comments

that have improved this paper.

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Figure captions

Fig.1. Basic differences between the conventional radar with a mechanically

rotating antenna (left) and the agile beam PAR (right).

Fig. 2. RMS error of transverse wind as a function of time between scans Δt for a

cold front data set (from Shapiro et al. 2003). Results at lowest elevation angle (1°) are

indicated by solid line; dashed line indicates average over all elevation angles (1°–8.7°).

Fig. 3. Capabilities of agile beam phased array radar are shown in a panoramic

view. Illustrated are a) surveillance scan through the planetary boundary layer (extending

to 2 km) for mapping winds, b) surveillance scan through a cumulus “Cu” cloud, c)

surveillance scan through a supercell storm, d) high resolution scan with a longer dwell

time through the region in the supercell where the potential for tornado development

exists, e) scan that grazes the mountain contour for “surgical-precision” avoidance of

ground clutter, f) determination of propagation condition, i.e., cumulative humidity along

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the beam between radar and the edge of the mountain,, and g) detection and tracking

aircraft including non cooperating aircraft.

Fig. 4. The NWRT: Installation of the radome over the single aperture of the

AN/SPY-1A radar antenna.

Fig. 5. Schematic of beam multiplexing. Pair of pulses are transmitted

sequentially at fixed angular directions a1, a2, ..a14. Powers and autocorrelations at lag

one are computed for each direction; the sequence is repeated several times; cumulative

sum of intermediate values of powers and autocorrelation is obtained; after the last

sequence the cumulative sums are transformed into estimates of powers and velocities

(from Yu et al. 2006).

Fig. 6. Example of reflectivity (dBZ) and velocity (m s-1) fields obtained from

BMX and SS. The time to collect both fields is exactly the same 1.792 s which is also the

separation between the beginnings of the two scans (from Yu et al. 2006).

Fig. 7. Radial velocity fields obtained with the WSR-88D radar in Oklahoma

City and the NWRT in Norman. Times of observations are printed and progress from top

to bottom. White circles mark tornadic vortex signatures. This tornadic storm occurred

on May 29, 2004.

Fig. 8. Reconstructed RHIs separated by 2 min at the time the three body

signature just became discernible. Time progresses in a column major order starting from

the left top image. The storm occurred Aug 15, 2006.

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Fig.1. Basic differences between the conventional radar with a mechanically rotating antenna (left) and the agile beam PAR (right).

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Fig. 2. RMS error of transverse wind as a function of time between scans Δt for a cold front data set (from Shapiro et al. 2003). Results at lowest elevation angle (1°) are indicated by solid line; dashed line indicates average over all elevation angles (1°–8.7°).

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Fig. 3. Capabilities of agile beam phased array radar are shown in a panoramic view. Illustrated are a) surveillance scan through the planetary boundary layer (extending to 2 km) for mapping winds, b) surveillance scan through a cumulus “Cu” cloud, c) surveillance scan through a supercell storm, d) high resolution scan with a longer dwell time through the region in the supercell where the potential for tornado development exists, e) scan that grazes the mountain contour for “surgical-precision” avoidance of ground clutter, f) determination of propagation condition, i.e., cumulative humidity along the beam between radar and the edge of the mountain,, and g) detection and tracking aircraft including non cooperating aircraft.

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Fig. 4. The NWRT: Installation of the radome over the single aperture of the AN/SPY-1A radar antenna.

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Fig. 5. Schematic of beam multiplexing. Pair of pulses are transmitted sequentially at fixed angular directions a1, a2, ..a14. Powers and autocorrelations at lag one are computed for each direction; the sequence is repeated several times; cumulative sum of intermediate values of powers and autocorrelation is obtained; after the last sequence the cumulative sums are transformed into estimates of powers and velocities (from Yu et al. 2006).

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Fig. 6. Example of reflectivity (dBZ) and velocity (m s-1) fields obtained from BMX and SS. The time to collect both fields is exactly the same 1.792 s which is also the separation between the beginnings of the two scans (from Yu et al. 2006).

AGILE BEAM PHASED ARRAY RADAR FOR WEATHER OBSERVATIONS 07 BAMS …· observations of weather. Thus the acronym PAR refers to the phased array radar technology in general; MPAR is - [PDF Document] (40)

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01:01:59

Initiation: anticyclonic tvs

01:03:01

01:03:50

01:04:03

01:05:23

01:06:08

01:02:02

Initiation: anticyclonic tvs

North TVS weakens

Anticyclonic TVS strengthens

Cyclonic and anticyclonic TVS’s continue

WSR-88D NWRT

01:06:16

Fig. 7 Radial velocity fields obtained with the WSR-88D radar (left) in Oklahoma City and the NWRT (right) in Norman. Times of observations are printed and progress from top to bottom. White circles mark tornadic vortex signatures. This tornadic storm occurred on May 29, 2004.

AGILE BEAM PHASED ARRAY RADAR FOR WEATHER OBSERVATIONS 07 BAMS …· observations of weather. Thus the acronym PAR refers to the phased array radar technology in general; MPAR is - [PDF Document] (41)

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Fig. 8 Reconstructed RHIs separated by 2 min, starting from the top at the time the three body signature (extended along the radial echo behind the storm core) just became discernible. Time progresses in a column major order starting from the left top image. The storm occurred Aug 15, 2006.

AGILE BEAM PHASED ARRAY RADAR FOR WEATHER OBSERVATIONS 07 BAMS … · observations of weather. Thus the acronym PAR refers to the phased array radar technology in general; MPAR is - [PDF Document] (2024)

FAQs

What is phased array weather radar? ›

PAR uses an integrated, flat antenna which contains an array of thousands of individual elements that scan electronically, rather than mechanically, so the radar can re-scan areas very quickly and adapt to different scenarios (such as targeted scanning during severe weather).

What is a radar pdf? ›

RADAR is an electromagnetic system for the detection and location of target objects such as aircraft, ships, spacecraft, vehicles, people, and the natural environment which can reflect a signal back.

How do phased array radars work? ›

A phased array radar has a unique flat panel antenna that remains stationary. The panel is made up of a grid of fixed antenna elements, and each can transmit and receive a signal. As a result, the radar beam can be steered electronically, giving users the ability to control how, when and where the radar scans.

What are the possible applications of radar system pdf? ›

Landing guidance, radar altimeter, air-traffic management, early-warning radar, fire-control radar, forward-warning collision sensing, ground-penetrating radar, surveillance, Doppler Radar, weather forecasting, and so on. Its applications have penetrated many areas of engineering.

What is the most powerful radar in the world? ›

The most powerful radar installation in the US belongs to the Air Force and is located at Elgin AFB, Florida. With a peak radiated power of 32 megawatts the Air Force claims it is the most powerful radar in the world, and can track a basketball-sized object up to 22,000 nautical miles from Earth.

What is the best weather radar in the world? ›

The WSR-88D is considered by many to be the most powerful radar in the world, transmitting at 750,000 watts (an average light bulb is only 75 watts)! This power enables a beam of energy generated by the radar to travel long distances, and detect many kinds of weather phenomena.

What are the 5 main components of radar? ›

five main components associated with ground penetrating radar systems are the transmitter, antenna, receiver, signal processing and display components. Figure 1 shows the radar components in a general imaging configuration consisting of layers of earth material of nominally unknown depth.

What radar can detect? ›

Comprehensive data: Radar sensors detect movements and stationary objects. After signal processing, the data received through the reflection provides a variety of information about the detected objects, vehicles, animals, or persons.

What is the most powerful phased array radar? ›

The radar was quickly rebuilt and operations began in early 1969. The AN/FPS-85 radar is the most powerful radar in the world and is the only phased array radar capable of tracking satellites in deep space orbits. It tracks near-Earth objects the size of a baseball and deep space objects the size of a basketball.

What are the disadvantages of phased array radar? ›

Disadvantages:
  • limited scanning range (up to max. 120° in azimuth and elevation)[1]
  • Deformation of the antenna pattern during beam steering.
  • low frequency agility.
  • very complex structure (computer, phase shifter, data bus to each radiator)
  • high costs (still)

What is a phased array used for? ›

Thus, a phased array may be used to point toward a fixed direction, or to scan rapidly in azimuth or elevation. The array acts as a spatial filter, attenuating all signals except those propagating from certain directions.

What is the latest technology in radar system? ›

AESA Radar: The Future of Detection

One notable advancement in radar technology is the introduction of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Unlike traditional radar systems with mechanically scanned antennas, AESA radar employs electronically controlled beams.

What are 3 uses of radar? ›

They are used for detection, tracking and surveillance purposes also. Weapon control and missile guidance often use various types of RADARs.

What frequency is used for radar? ›

Typically, these systems operate in the microwave (300 MHz–40 GHz) portion of the radio spectrum. Doppler radar detects the relative motion of an obstacle; i.e., detection requires either movement of the obstacle or the vehicle.

What is the difference between phased array and AESA? ›

AESA radar systems use phased array antennas with transmit/receive (T/R) modules dedicated to each element. PESA radar systems use a single T/R module that is shared across all antenna elements.

What is the difference between radiography and phased array? ›

PAUT uses ultrasonic waves to detect flaws in materials, while RT uses X-rays to examine the internal structure. PAUT's flexibility and precision make it a superior choice for various scenarios.

What is the difference between MIMO and phased array? ›

MIMO radar, on the other hand, has lower resolution, coverage, and accuracy than phase array radar. This is because MIMO radar relies on the diversity of the transmitted waveforms and the correlation of the received signals, which can be affected by noise, clutter, and interference.

References

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