First CASA Radar Network Deployed in Texas

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

The Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC), has fostered a pair of collaborations to help develop and disseminate their technology. CASA recently received an NSF Partnership for Innovation grant to work with the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and Colorado State University to study flash flooding. They also were awarded an NSF/US IGNITE grant to conduct research on high-capacity communications networks in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area.

Impact/benefits: 

The images collected by CASA’s radars are five to ten times more detailed than traditional measurements. Now that their DFW Urban Demonstration Network has been launched successfully, these two grants allow them to focus on enhancing their network and expand into new places and research areas. They are collaborating with municipal governments, and eventually private sector partners, for this project. CASA’s radars address many of the shortcomings of the NEXRAD radar network owned and operated by the NWS. They are designed to be faster and to permit observation of the lowest levels of the atmosphere, addressing gaps in the current technology.  Furthermore, they are more compact than conventional radars and can be installed on buildings or communication towers.  The goal of this project is to establish a replicable model that can someday be used in regions throughout the country and the world to sense many types of weather phenomena better than the traditional radar networks can.

 

Explanation/Background: 

From 2006 to 2011, demonstrations at CASA’s Oklahoma testbed resulted in two National Research Council reports recommending CASA’s technology to supplement large-radar weather observing systems. This deployment project, being conducted in collaboration with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the National Weather Service (NWS) Office of Science and Technology is the first step in bringing this technology to the general public. The NCTCOG is bringing together local towns and cities, stormwater departments, fire departments, television stations, and local businesses to support the project. Warehouse space, rooftops and towers for radar installations, electricity, network connectivity, and the cost of installation and operation of the network will all be provided by NCTCOG and its local partners. Through additional federal funding and investments from CASA’s partners and the NWS, the project is expected to have sufficient funding for full-scale operation and to serve as a key platform for CASA sustainability after ERC Program funding ends.

CASA is making steady progress in establishing the CASA DFW Urban Demonstration Network (or CASA WX as it is known locally). After being unveiled in July 2012, the first radar was installed at the University of Texas–Austin in October 2012. That radar is now sending out live data to a group of emergency managers (for evaluation) whenever severe weather approaches the DFW metroplex. The second radar was deployed in April 2013 at the University of North Texas (UNT). The plan is to operate an eight-node network that covers 12 of the 16 counties in the metroplex. With more funding, they hope to expand to 20 nodes.