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Three-dimensional storm motion detection by conventional weather radar


KNOWLEDGE of the kinematic structure of storms is important for understanding the internal physical processes. Radar has long provided information on the three-dimensional structure of storms from measurements of the radar reflectivity factor alone. Early users of radar gave total storm movement only, whereas later radar data were used to reveal internal motions based on information related to cloud physics such as the three-dimensional morphology of the storm volume. Such approaches have continued by using the increasingly finer scale details provided by more modern radar systems. Both Barge and Bergwall2 and Browning and Foote3 have used fine scale reflectivity structure to determine airflow in hailstorms. Doppler radar added a new dimension to our capabilities through its ability to measure directly the radial component of motion of an ensemble of hydrometeor particles. Two4 or three5 Doppler radars collecting data in conjunction, the equation of mass continuity, and an empirical radar reflectivity–terminal velocity relationship have enabled the estimation of the full three-dimensional airflow fields in parts of storms. Because of the inherent advantage of Doppler radar in motion detection, little effort has been directed toward developing objective schemes of determining internal storm motions with conventional meteorological radars. Pattern recognition schemes using correlation coefficient techniques6, Fourier analysis7, and gaussian curve fitting8 have been used with radar and satellite data, but primarily for detecting overall storm motions, echo merging and echo splitting. Here we describe an objective use of radar reflectivity factor data from a single conventional weather radar to give information related to the three-dimensional motions within a storm.

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    Barge, B. L. & Bergwall, F. Atmos. Sci. Rep. 76–2 (Alberta Research Council, 1976).

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    Browning, K. A. & Foote, G. B. Q. J. R. meteor. Soc. 102, 499–533 (1976).

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