EAPS to purchase new weather radar

10-08-2017

By: Logan Judy

The radome on the roof of Wang Hall

A low-power weather radar designed to provide detailed weather observations is coming to the EAPS Atmospheric Science program.

High-quality research is partially dependent in high-quality instrumentation. In order to fill in gaps in observational data, the EAPS Atmospheric Science program is bringing in a new instrument, an X-band weather radar. This radar is a low-power, low-cost system for monitoring winds and precipitation in the lower atmosphere. Such smaller, lower-power radars are necessary for more accurate weather forecasts, says Dr. Robin Tanamachi, EAPS Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator of the project.

“The radar we are purchasing was designed to fill the lower atmosphere observation gaps in the National Weather Service's radar network,” said Dr. Tanamachi. “We are roughly 70 miles from the nearest NWS radar at Indianapolis Airport, and because of the Earth’s curvature, the radar beam is about one kilometer over our heads. So, the addition of a small radar here will fill the lower atmospheric observation gap over Purdue nicely.”

The radar will be installed in the radar dome, or “radome,” on top of Seng Liang Wang Hall. This radome was specifically built to house an X-band radar, and is made from materials that are nearly transparent at X-band frequencies (around 9.4 GHz).

Once the radar is installed, the Atmospheric Science team will show live weather images on a website, and share the raw data with the National Weather Service, potentially helping NWS generate more accurate forecasts for the Lafayette area. These data will also be accessible to teachers, students, and other collaborators, allowing them to use real-life data in class projects.

“Students will be able to learn about radar meteorology and engineering using the X-band weather radar as a teaching tool,” Dr. Tanamachi said. “They will be able to visit the radar in person, see the individual hardware components in action, and work with data collected in local weather events.”

Support and funding for the radar purchase was provided by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships, as well as collaborators in EAPS, the College of Science, the College of Engineering, and Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

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