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UT Arlington to get advanced weather radar system to provide better data for improved warnings

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

A weather radar system to be installed soon at The University of Texas at Arlington promises faster, more precise information about severe weather and flash flooding that may save lives by giving people more time to take action.

The system is a collaborative venture of the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments. UT Arlington is funding installation of the radar system, which will be placed atop Carlisle Hall.

D.-J. Seo, UT Arlington associate professor of civil engineering, is leading a research team that will help mine the data for important weather information that can be used in emergency management, development and stormwater drainage planning.

CASA weather radar

Courtesy CASA Engineering Research Center

The new weather radar system that will be installed on top of Carlisle Hall at UT Arlington will look like this. The white, domed cover in the background will protect the system from the elements. The system is built by the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.

“In severe weather, minutes can mean the difference between life and death,” Seo said. “The new system can see the small details in the atmosphere. You can tell what is happening very close to the ground every minute.”

The CASA system will provide new data every minute compared with every five to six minutes with the existing systems. The new system focuses  on a more concise area, giving forecasters more detailed information to better monitor and track storms and precipitation.

Because the CASA system is designed to observe the atmosphere closer to the ground, the system requires an extensive network of radars.

UT Arlington is one of four sites selected to host a CASA radar for the first phase of the DFW Urban Demonstration Project. Similar systems are to be installed at The University of North Texas and within the cities of Fort Worth and Addison. Plans eventually call for about a dozen sites throughout North Texas.

Being the only site with a civil engineering program, UT Arlington has a leading role to play, Seo said. University researchers plan to use the data to produce more detailed and accurate information about flooding, heavy rainfall, snowfall, damaging winds and others, and to understand better the hydrologic, hydrometeorological and atmospheric processes involved. 

Brenda Philips, CASA associate director of industry, government and end-user partnerships, said universities involved in CASA are looking for local academic partners to collaborate on research.

“The Civil Engineering Department, with its focus on hydrology, is a great match for the project,” Philips said.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth test area, the system will demonstrate the value of in-depth rainfall rate data, Philips said. She said the data will have maximum impact when integrated into high-resolution hydrological models.

“That's why we're thrilled to work with D.-J. Seo and John McEnery in Civil Engineering. They are experts in that field,” Philips said. “Of course, there will be opportunities for collaboration across the campus through this new system.”

For many communities in North Texas, the CASA system will help emergency management officials better prepare for severe weather events. Philips said eventually CASA hopes to put systems across the 16-county North Central Texas Council of Governments region.

Jean Pierre-Bardet, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering, said the CASA project represents a significant opportunity for UT Arlington students and researchers to play a critical role in improving our abilities to monitor and predict various threats from severe weather events and at the same time serving the community.

“In addition to potentially saving lives, this data could be used by private sector businesses when they’re considering projects in North Texas,” Bardet said. “This radar system and the data it will provide illustrate a partnership among government, universities and businesses. It’s a model for many collaborative efforts to emulate.”

Funded by a National Science Foundation grant, CASA is a consortium of nine universities, government agencies and industry partners. The North Central Council of Governments is coordinating participation of area municipalities.

The CASA weather radar installation is representative of the significant research initiatives under way at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive institution of nearly 33,500 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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