A new millimeter-wave cloud radar (MMCR) has been designed to provide detailed, long-term observations of nonprecipitating and weakly precipitating clouds at Cloud and Radiation Testbed (CART) sites of the Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program. Scientific requirements included excellent sensitivity and vertical resolution to detect weak and thin multiple layers of ice and liquid water clouds over the sites and long-term, unattended operations in remote locales. In response to these requirements, the innovative radar design features a vertically pointing, single-polarization, Doppler system operating at 35 GHz (Ka band). It uses a low-peak-power transmitter for long-term reliability and high-gain antenna and pulse-compressed waveforms to maximize sensitivity and resolution. The radar uses the same kind of signal processor as that used in commercial wind profilers. The first MMCR began operations at the CART in northern Oklahoma in late 1996 and has operated continuously there for thousands of hours. It routinely provides remarkably detailed images of the ever-changing cloud structure and kinematics over this densely instrumented site. Examples of the data are presented. The radar measurements will greatly improve quantitative documentation of cloud conditions over the CART sites and will bolster ARM research to understand how clouds impact climate through their effects on radiative transfer. Millimeter-wave radars such as the MMCR also have potential applications in the fields of aviation weather, weather modification, and basic cloud physics research.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 13, 1998
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