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S-Pol Radar

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Management and Operation of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, 2008-2013  (University Corporation For Atmospheric Res)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

S-Pol radar is an advanced, transportable, ground-based dual-polarimetric 10 cm wavelength (S-band) weather radar operated by the Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). S-Pol's capabilities lead to improved precipitation estimates over what is available on conventional radars. S-Pol can also be used to compute and monitor low-level humidity in real time by measuring changes in refractive index between fixed ground targets. S-Pol has recently been upgraded to include boundary layer humidity profiles and cloud liquid water content estimates that are independent of drop size distribution. S-Pol is also used as a test bed for development of algorithms to improve the data quality of the National Weather Service's operational weather radar network (NEXRAD). S-Pol has been deployed in a variety of settings and on four continents.

Education & Outreach

EOL's summer undergraduate engineering internship program provides a unique and valuable experience to prepare engineering students for successful careers. While working at EOL, interns help develop new instrumentation and improve our existing suite of NSF/NCAR lower atmospheric observing facilities. Most internships also offer the opportunity to gain practical experience operating facilities in the field by deploying on one of EOL's NSF-funded research projects. Interns are encouraged to develop their own engineering solutions as they work with and are mentored by professional, experienced engineers and technicians. During the internship, interns have access to a large number of resources such as sophisticated testing and calibration instruments, technical documentation, state-of-the art fabrication capabilities.

Undergraduate as well as graduate students can apply to help with the operation and maintenance of EOL equipment during domestic and international field deployments. Most positions are in support of the Integrated Sounding System (ISS) and the GPS Advanced Upper Air Sounding System (GAUS) with occasional opportunities related to radar and dropsonde operations. Responsibilities often include launching of sondes at predetermined schedules, maintenance of proper operations of all equipment, data collection and processing activities, document preparation as well as help with set-up and tear-down.

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  • Image from an NSF-funded radar facility.
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