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Duke University installs weather research equipment at A-B Tech
July 12, 2012
Duke and A-B Tech are supporting the NASA Precipitation Measurement Mission, according to Pamela McCown, Institute for Climate Education Coordinator. “Madison County was selected as the site for the research equipment because of its mountainous terrain. One of the purposes of the study is to understand why there is more rain on mountain peaks than there is in the valleys.”
One of the instruments deployed is a disdrometer, which measures the various sizes of raindrops. In addition, a rain gauge and an upward-looking mobile radar have also been installed. “We’re all used to looking at the weather radar on the local news and those images use different colors to indicate the various intensities of precipitation. The equipment that Dr. Barros’ group installed at A-B Tech’s Madison site is helping to make sure that meteorologists are making the right assumptions about rainfall intensity when we look at rain using weather radar. Meteorologists are hoping to eventually be able to use satellites to measure rain in complex terrain, similar to that in Western North Carolina, since the mountains make it difficult to see all the rain.” McCown said.
“Currently, because of terrain complexity, ground-based radars cannot see into the inner regions of complex topography and over mountain slopes at the heights where most precipitation is forming, and thus severe weather and light rainfall alike are missed. In the case of satellites, they have a top-down viewpoint, which is an advantage compared to ground-based radars, but the effect of mountains introduces large errors,” Barros said.
“This is just the beginning of the research. Much more equipment will be deployed over the next few years during a major NASA research project that will take place in Western North Carolina in association with the launch of a new precipitation measuring satellite,” McCown said. “A-B Tech is honored to be partnering with Dr. Barros and Duke University on this project because it is research that will ultimately impact us here in a real way.”