Radar project receives NOAA Tech Transfer Award

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded the team behind a collaborative project to make high-resolution weather radar data available in real-time to the public its prestigious 2004 Technology Transfer Award. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The award recognized the team for “development of a national real-time radar data archival and Internet2 delivery system for university, government and private sectors.” Taking advantage of high performance networking capabilities and other recent technological advances, the team successfully transferred the technology from research into NOAA’s National Weather Service, private sector operations and research and education facilities.

Team members are: Dr. Timothy D. Crum, Tom Sandman and Philip Cragg from the NOAA’s National Weather Service; Kevin E. Kelleher from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research; and Stephen A. Del Greco, NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.

“This technology transfer effort was unique because of the wide collaboration of individuals and organizations needed and because of the significant and numerous tangible benefits to business, universities, other federal agencies and foreign countries,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This new system will facilitate ground-breaking advances by a variety of weather radar data users.”

As a result of this technology transfer effort, higher resolution and more detailed weather products will be developed, further enhancing the NWS mission of protecting lives and property. The NWS announced in April it is distributing the high-resolution/Level II data from the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) through four Internet2 top-tier sites. These data represent the highest resolution picture of what the radar system is “seeing” in real time.

To make Level II data available in real time, the NWS expanded on an experiment known as CRAFT, the Collaborative Radar Acquisition Field Test Project. The experiment was implemented by a coalition of researchers from The University of Oklahoma’s Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, Internet2, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s Unidata, and other organizations working with NOAA during the past several years. The new system will meet NWS requirements for archive and real-time Level II data applications.

The use of the Internet2 network infrastructure, including the high-performance Abilene backbone network, also allows NWS to deliver significantly greater amounts of high quality data to a geographically diverse group of users in real time. Data are available from the 121 NWS WSR-88D radars and three of the Department of Defense’s WSR-88D radars in the contiguous United States.

The data are sent to the NWS regional headquarters and then to the Internet2 network via the Gigapops located at North Texas, Utah Education Network and Great Plains Network.

The NWS is using the Unidata public domain Local Data Manager technology to collect and redistribute Level II data. The NWS will send copies of the Level II data to the Internet2 top-tier sites (University of Oklahoma, Purdue University, Educational Consortium of the Western Carolinas, and University of Maryland). Unidata will coordinate the further redistribution of data through the university community. The top-tier sites are available to provide the unaltered Level II data stream at the cost of dissemination.

“This project is a great example of what can be done when various branches of the government work together with the university and private sectors for a common goal,” Kelleher said.

Significant contributions to the project came from Kelvin Droegemeier from the University of Oklahoma; Linda Miller, Mohan Ramamurthy, and David Faulkner from UCAR Unidata; Guy Almes from Abilene; and Mark Benner and Karen Cooper from the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

On the Web:
NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov
National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov
National Climatic Data Center: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov
Radar Operations Center: http://www.roc.noaa.gov