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Title: Meteorological Research Enabled by Rapid-Scan Radar Technology

The scientific community has long acknowledged the importance of high-temporal-resolution radar observations to advance science research and improve high-impact weather prediction. Development of innovative rapid-scan radar technologies over the past two decades has enabled radar volume scans of 10–60 s compared to 3–5 min with traditional parabolic dish research radars and the WSR-88D radar network. This review examines the impact of rapid-scan radar technology, defined as radars collecting volume scans in 1 min or less, on atmospheric science research spanning different subdisciplines and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the use of rapid-scan radars. In particular, a significant body of literature has accumulated for tornado and severe thunderstorm research and forecasting applications, in addition to a growing number of studies of convection. Convection research has benefited substantially from more synchronous vertical views, but could benefit more substantially by leveraging multi-Doppler wind retrievals and complementary in situ and remote sensors. In addition, several years of forecast evaluation studies are synthesized from radar testbed experiments, and the benefits of assimilating rapid-scan radar observations are analyzed. Although the current body of literature reflects the considerable utility of rapid-scan radars to science research, a weakness is that limited advancements in understanding of the physical mechanisms behind observed features have been enabled. There is considerable opportunity to bridge the gap in physical understanding with the current technology using coordinated efforts to include rapid-scan radars in field campaigns and expanding the breadth of meteorological phenomena studied.

Significance Statement

Recently developed rapid-scan radar technologies, capable of collecting volumetric (i.e., three-dimensional) measurements in 10–60 s, have improved temporal sampling of weather phenomena. This review examines the impact of these radar observations from the past two decades on science research and emerging operational capabilities. Substantial breadth and impact of research is evident for tornado research and forecasting applications, in addition to documentation of other rapidly evolving phenomena associated with deep convection, such as tornadoes, hail, lightning, and tropical cyclones. This review identifies the strengths and weaknesses of how these radars have been used in scientific research to inform future studies, emerging from the increasing availability and capability of rapid-scan radars. In addition, this review synthesizes research that can benefit future operational radar decisions.

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Award ID(s):
2114817 2113075
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Weather Review
Medium: X Size: p. 3-37
["p. 3-37"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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