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About WindTtracker

Windprofilers use radar techniques to produce radio scatter from weak irregularities in the air above them, and utilize this information to determine upper level wind speeds and directions. They may use either "Doppler beam pointing methods" or "spaced antenna methods", using arrays of antennas.

The WindTtracker radar is much more than a windprofiler radar. Whereas traditional systems can measure horizontal and vertical winds, and power levels, the WindTtracker radar also measures a variety of other parameters which have never been fully utilized before. We will discuss these shortly. Our most recent products also sample the signal at the RF, and use real-time software-based receiver decoding, coupled with real-time deconvolution. These procedures provide better data and allow the radars to be produced at lower cost (see our paper here).

It also utilizes a hybrid of Doppler-beam-swinging (DBS) and spaced-antenna (SA) techniques to optimize its performance. Above 1.5 km altitude, DBS methods are used, in order to take full advantage of the large area of the antenna array. We produce a two-way beam half-power half-width of less than 1.7, allowing high gain and optimal signal returns. Below 1.5 km, we offer an additional spaced antenna option which permits winds to be determined down to 400 metres altitude and even lower in some cases.

We have developed very detailed procedures for both extraction of the wind and for its later analysis. Our spectral extraction procedures are among the most detailed in existence, permitting us to isolate spectral peaks corresponding to wind motions with good discrimination. Because of this excellent discrimination, we can obtain useful winds to 16 km altitude and above using a 40 kW radar. We use a 5-beam system, which is very important for discriminating non-atmospheric echoes. Our quality control procedures are very thorough, and we take considerable care to remove outliers and contaminants. Our system also utilizes a graduated vertical resolution, using 500 metre resolution at 1.5 km and gradually increasing to 1 km at the higher altitudes.

One of our key new parameters is the strength of turbulence (energy dissipation rate), which is displayed as a function of height and time for scientific research applications. Indeed the name "WindTtracker" originates from the fact that this radar measures both Winds and Turbulence and can be used to track their values viz. Wind and Turbulence tracker. We take great care to remove so-called "beam-broadening" effects in our measurements of turbulence, utilizing a detailed 4-dimensional numerical computer model which can deal with any type of wind profile structure. In the past, the energy dissipation rate has not often been calculated, and it is almost never displayed as a standard parameter. Previous calculations used simplistic beam-broadening models which assume either a constant wind as a function of height, or a linear wind shear. The effect of the pulse-length is rarely properly considered. Our new model generalizes all these concepts, and yet still produces estimates of the strengths of turbulence in close to real time.

In addition, we also display the atmospheric anisotropy as a standard parameter. Again, this is quite new. The anisotropy parameter indicates information about the nature of the atmospheric scatterers, and this can tell us information about the atmospheric condition. For example, in conditions of strong convection, the scatterers become more isotropic, and this can often be a precursor to convectively generated clouds and subsequent precipitation. When the atmosphere is very stable vertically, or when strong wind shears exist as a function of height, the scatterers are more anisotropic, which can be seen as a reduction of the powers on the off-vertical beams relative to the power on the vertical beam.

Because we use a 5-beam system, we can also determine other important atmospheric parameters like momentum fluxes and gravity wave activity - again parameters which are not traditionally measured on a regular basis.

Our system also regularly monitors the height of the tropopause, using a variety of different and complementary techniques.

You can see some examples of the graphics produced with our system in the gallery (see tablets on the left).

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