www.webMET.com - your meteorological resource center
United States
EPA Models
Wind Rose
Met Station
Met Monitoring Guide
Met Data
Digital Terrain Data
Met Facts
About WebMET.com
Contact Us

9.1.4 Radar Wind Profiler

Operating characteristics of three common types of radar wind profilers are given in Table 9-3. The categories included in the table are: 1) very high frequency (VHF) profilers that operate at frequencies near 50 MHZ; 2) ultra-high frequency (UHF) tropospheric profilers that operate at frequencies near 400 MHZ; and 3) UHF lower tropospheric profilers that operate at frequencies near 1000 MHZ. The guidance provided herein is intended for radar wind profilers that fall into the third category; i.e., UHF lower tropospheric profilers (also called boundary layer radar wind profilers).

Doppler radar wind profilers operate using principles similar to those used by Doppler sodars, except that electromagnetic (EM) signals are used rather than acoustic signals to remotely sense winds aloft. Figure 9-3 shows an example of the geometry of a UHF radar wind profiler equipped with a RASS unit (see Section 9.1.5). In this illustration, the radar can sample along each of five beams: one is aimed vertically to measure vertical velocity, and four are tilted off vertical and oriented orthogonal to one another to measure the horizontal components of  the air's motion. A UHF profiler includes subsystems to control the radar's transmitter, receiver, signal processing, and RASS (if provided), as well as data telemetry and remote control.

Detailed information on profiler operation can be found in references [73] and [74]; a brief summary of the fundamentals is provided in the following. The radar transmits an electromagnetic pulse along each of the antenna's pointing directions. The duration of the transmission determines the length of the pulse emitted by the antenna, which in turn corresponds to the volume of air illuminated (in electrical terms) by the radar beam. Small amounts of the transmitted energy are scattered back (referred to as backscattering) toward and received by the radar. Delays of fixed intervals are built into the data processing system so that the radar receives scattered energy from discrete altitudes, referred to as range gates. The Doppler frequency shift of the backscattered energy is determined, and then used to calculate the velocity of the air toward or away from the radar along each beam as a function of altitude. The source of the backscattered energy (radar “targets”) is small-scale turbulent fluctuations that induce irregularities in the radio refractive index of the atmosphere. The radar is most sensitive to scattering by turbulent eddies whose spatial scale is ˝ the wavelength of the radar, or approximately 16 centimeters (cm) for a UHF profiler.

Figure 9-3 Schematic of smapling geometry for a radar wind profiler with RASS

Table 9-3
Characteristics of radar wind profilers
a Size
(m2 )
 Alias and Prototypes
50 MHZ 10,000 250 2-20 150-
VHF radar wind profiler
50 MHZ (600cm) profiler used in the Colorado Wind Profiler Network in 1983
400 MHZ 120 40 0.2-14 250 alias:
UFH (tropospheric) radar wind profiler
404 MHZ (74cm) profiler developed for the Wind Profiler Demonstration Network (WPDN) in 1988.
449MHZ (67cm) profiler operates at the approved frequency for UHF profilers and will eventually replace the 404 MHZ units
482 MHZ (62cm) profiler used by the German Weather Service 
UHF lower-tropospheric radar wind profiler Boundary layer radar wind profiler Lower-atmospheric radar wind profiler
915 MHZ (33cm) profiler used in the Colorado Wind Profiler Network in 1983
1290 MHZ (23 cm) boundary layer profiler used by the German Weather Service

A profiler's (and sodar's) ability to measure winds is based on the assumption that the turbulent eddies that induce scattering are carried along by the mean wind. The energy scattered by these eddies and received by the profiler is orders of magnitude smaller than the energy transmitted. However, if sufficient samples can be obtained, then the amplitude of the energy scattered by these eddies can be clearly identified above the background noise level, then the mean wind speed and direction within the volume being sampled can be determined.

The radial components measured by the tilted beams are the vector sum of the horizontal motion of the air toward or away from the radar and any vertical motion present in the beam. Using appropriate trigonometry, the three-dimensional meteorological velocity components (u,v,w) and wind speed and wind direction are calculated from the radial velocities with corrections for vertical motions. A boundary-layer radar wind profiler can be configured to compute averaged wind profiles for periods ranging from a few minutes to an hour.

Boundary-layer radar wind profilers are often configured to sample in more than one mode. For example, in a “low mode,” the pulse of energy transmitted by the profiler may be 60 m in length. The pulse length determines the depth of the column of air being sampled and thus the vertical resolution of the data. In a “high mode,” the pulse length is increased, usually to 100 m or greater. The longer pulse length means that more energy is being transmitted for each sample, which improves the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the data. Using a longer pulse length increases the depth of the sample volume and thus decreases the vertical resolution in the data. The greater energy output of the high mode increases the maximum altitude to which the radar wind profiler can sample, but at the expense of coarser vertical resolution and an increase in the altitude at which the first winds are measured. When radar wind profilers are operated in multiple modes, the data are often combined into a single overlapping data set to simplify post-processing and data validation procedures.

9.1 Fundamentals  
      9.1.1 Upper-Air Meteorological Variables  
     9.1.2 Radiosonde Sounding System  
     9.1.3 Doppler Sodar 
     9.1.4 Radar Wind Profiler 
     9.1.5 RASS  
 9.2 Performance Characteristics  
     9.2.1 Definition of Performance Specifications  
     9.2.2 Performance Characteristics of Radiosonde Sounding Systems 
     9.2.3 Performance Characteristics of Remote Sensing Systems  
 9.3 Monitoring Objectives and Goals  
     9.3.1 Data Quality Objectives  
 9.4 Siting and Exposure
 9.5 Installation and Acceptance Testing 
9.6 Quality Assurance and Quality Control 
     9.6.1 Calibration Methods  
     9.6.2 System and Performance Audits  
     9.6.3 Standard Operating Procedures 
     9.6.4 Operational Checks and Preventive Maintenance  
     9.6.5 Corrective Action and Reporting  
     9.6.6 Common Problems Encountered in Upper-Air Data Collection 
 9.7 Data Processing and Management (DP&M) 
9.7.1 Overview of Data Products  
     9.7.2 Steps in DP&M 
     9.7.3 Data Archiving  
 9.8 Recommendations for Upper-Air Data Collection 

Free Digital
Terrain Data &
GIS Resources

Leading Air Dispersion Modeling & Risk Assessment Software

calpuff view
Advanced Air Dispersion Model


Copyright © 2002 WebMET.com - Disclaimer