The NCAS Mobile Radar


Lindsay Bennett, Chris Collier and Alan Blyth


NCAS, University of Leeds

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Lindsay Bennett

Instrument Scientist

What is the new facility?

There is a new mobile Doppler radar in FGAM, at the University of Leeds. The fact that it is mobile means it can be deployed in field campaigns in most parts of the world, including the UK. It transmits and receives radiation polarised in the horizontal and vertical, which means it is particularly suited to providing detail information about particles inside and falling from clouds.

Why is the facility important?

The radar will be a critical instrument in projects designed to improve forecasts of flooding. One application is to address the questions of quantitative precipitation forecasting e.g. more accurately determining how much rain falls into a river catchment area. Another is to determine the dynamics by which thunderstorms develop into prolonged systems continuously producing rainfall over the same area. These types of storms can lead to flash flooding that can cause incredible damage to property and even loss of lives.

What is the planned use of the facility?

Significant progress has been made recently on understanding how, where and when convective storms form due to previous projects led by NCAS. However, it remains challenging for models to correctly predict the amount of rain. That is the main goal of the COnvective Precipitation Experiment (COPE): to understand the processes that control rainfall intensity. The new radar will be a key instrument in the project. It will scan the clouds continuously from when they first appear to the later stages when there is heavy rain. Three research aircraft will fly through the clouds and in the surrounding environment to gather information about the cloud particles in the developing stages.

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Above: High intensity precipitation observed over southern England during a period of devastating flooding in Dorset in July 2012.


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This facility was and funded by UK Natural Environment Research Council and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science.