As of the writing of this blog, today marks the "official" start of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season, although tropical cyclones have been documented in every month of the year. TTUHRT has made several improvements to our research platforms during the fall, winter, and spring.
I'll start first with our StickNet platforms... for those that don't know, StickNet probes are rapidly deployable 2.25 m weather stations. They make research grade measurements of wind speed, direction, temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity. Our group was awarded a grant in 2010 from the Texas Applied Research Program to equip 12 probes with real-time data transmission capability. 12 probes were upgraded with cell internet capability to transmit data in real-time to our servers at Texas Tech. During operations, data will be available to the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, emergency management, and our private research partners. Additionally, NOAA's Hurricane Research Center will ingest the observations into their H*Wind surface windfield model. Unfortunately, the data will not be directly available to the general public. Our web server capability likely would not handle the amount of traffic during a landfalling hurricane. Also we are still ironing out the information that will be transmitted as well as the quality control and assurance procedures. We hope in the coming years to be able to provide this information to the general public through upgrades to our server infrastructure. As in the past, summary data will be posted to our official website as soon as possible following any deployment operations. The same 12 probes also received new data acquisition enclosures and new ruggedized instrument connectors. This retrofit was conducted to make the platforms even more rugged and limit any water intrusion into sensitive electronic components inside the data acquisition enclosure.
The other major improvements were focused on the TTUKA mobile Doppler radars. Each radar received a new and improved data processor. The new processor (RVP 9) will allow for even higher resolution information to be collected. A good analogy is if we are looking at a row of fence posts, with the old system 2 fence posts were identified as 1 return, with the new processor we can distinguish each fence post. The radar now has a radial resolution of approximately 5 m with an azimuthal resolution of 0.5 degrees. The upgrades increase our capability to observe small scale turbulent features.
Stay tuned to the blog as our new field coordinator Rich Krupar will cover these upgrades in greater detail. We are very excited about our ability to continue to make critical measurements of hurricanes at landfall... with the end goal of "making landfalling hurricanes more like a bump in the road to society"