March 21, 2012 to April 8, 2012
Project Description: 

DOW Observations of Lake-Effects :: DOLE 2012

Principal Investigator :: Scott Steiger
When :: 21 March - 8 April 2012
Where :: State University of New York (SUNY) - Oswego
Facility :: Doppler on Wheels

Snowstorms and lake breezes occur annually during this time of year in upstate New York, along with the potential for lake-crossing showers and thunderstorms. This educational deployment will coincide with the first offering of a new laboratory course for undergraduate meteorology majors at SUNY Oswego called Remote Sensing and Mesoscale Meteorology Lab (Meteorology 416). The plan is to also involve students in the Mesoscale Meteorology lecture and Synoptic Meteorology courses giving a potential direct impact to more than 30 undergraduate students.

The objectives of this deployment are to:

  1. Give undergraduate meteorology students exposure to state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment and have them learn how to operate the DOW
  2. Have students plan scanning strategies (i.e., where to deploy, sector vs. total volume scans, how many elevation angles, selecting the PRF) for the DOW for four meteorological situations (large-scale snowstorm, lake-effect snowstorm, albeit unlikely but possible this time of year, lake/land breezes, and the effects of the lake on surface-based convection crossing over the lake)

Students from Meteorology 416 analyze the data in groups using the radar editing software SOLO-II and present their findings at the end of the term to the class.

Proposed use of the DOW Radar

DOW missions will focus on near lakeshore locations to sample the effects of the lake on precipitating systems (both large and small scale) and on creating local circulations such as lake breezes. There are have several planned deployment locations based on the NSF-EAGER research conducted in 2010-11, but some new locations may be needed, especially if there is a desire to study the inland penetration of a lake breeze. Students and Dr. Steiger will perform radar siting for this purpose several weeks before the DOW's proposed arrival.

To study the effect of the lake-land boundary on precipitating systems scan strategies will be developed to obtain high resolution data in the vertical and horizontal (RHIs and PPIs, respectively). The main issue is view obstruction by the many trees in upstate New York if scanning inland.

There is a state-of-the-art Vaisala, Inc. rawinsonde system available, a surface weather station on campus that measures the standard variables plus visibility and precipitation type, and a mobile research-quality surface weather station (Climatronics) that will potentially be using during this project. In addition, we will ask for volunteers from our 100+ meteorology majors to form teams of at least two to sample precipitation type and rate on an approximate grid underneath the
phenomenon of interest (of course this will depend on personal vehicle availability).

Before the radars arrive on campus students in the Met 416 lab course will devise scan strategies for different sites and weather scenarios, considering how to set the PRF to deal with the Doppler dilemma, antenna rotation rate, PPI vs. RHI mode, etc.

Lastly, for the analysis phase of this proposed project, students will learn how to examine DOW data using the NCAR/SOLO-II software early in the semester (before deployment). They will then have three weeks to analyze the collected data in teams of three testing hypotheses or doing case studies and then present their findings in oral and written format the last week of classes in early May 2012.

Public Outreach & Education

  • Students will present how the DOW operates and some of their findings via an open house-type event to be held on campus around weeks 2 or 3 of the deployment
  • Travel to nearby schools with the facility manager-s permission may also be done
  • Local media will be invited to these events
  • An analysis exercise module will be created for secondary school teachers to use in their classes to teach about radar

Read the complete DOLE Facility Request.

DOLE in the News

ESF Students to See Doppler on Wheels in Syracuse
26 March 2012

Tornado Tracking Truck in Syracuse
27 March 2012


DOLE Final Report

SUNY Oswego had possession of the Doppler on Wheels 6 (DOW 6) from 20 March through 5 April 2012. The goals were to expose students in the Meteorology 416 course (Remote Sensing and Mesoscale Meteorology Laboratory) to the state‐of‐the‐art facility, to train them on how to operate the DOW, and to design and follow through carrying out experiments with the radar. The class of 24 students were placed into four teams based on the types of weather phenomena that can typically be observed in this part of the country in early spring (Table 1): lake breeze, interior snowstorm, lake‐crossing convection (showers/thunderstorms over nearby Lake Ontario; since this did not occur this group focused on a thunderstorm event they sampled over Missouri), and wind farm (there are two major farms near Oswego) groups. Read the complete DOLE Final Report.