October 21, 2011 to November 21, 2011
Project Location: 
Salt Lake City, UT
Funding Type: 
NSF Funded
Project Description: 

Sounding Observations of Lake-Effect Precipitation Experiment – Radar Education and Outreach :: SOLPEX-REO

Principal Investigators :: W. James Steenburgh
When :: 21 October - 21 November 2011
Where :: University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Facility :: Doppler on Wheels

The University of Utah requests a one-month (21 Oct – 21 Nov 2011) on-campus deployment of one of the dual-polarimetric Doppler on Wheels (DOW) radars managed by the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR). We plan to use the DOW for the following education and outreach activities:

  1. Student-Directed Field Research
  2. Lecture and on-campus DOW demonstration for general education students
  3. Class and Capstone Project Educational Activities 
  4. K-12 Outreach

The University of Utah Department of Atmospheric Sciences has a strong history of integrating field research into its educational programs. For example, during the past winter, the SOLPEX and Persistent Cold-Air Pools (PCAPS) field programs were held in the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding environs and involved the participation of nearly all of our graduate and upperdivision undergraduate students. In both field programs, students helped with the field program design, as well as the installation and operation of surface-based and upper-air observing systems.

Lacking from these recent efforts has been the deployment and use of a precipitation radar. The DOW last visited the University of Utah in 2000, when it was successfully deployed for the Intermountain Precipitation Experiment (IPEX, Schultz et al. 2002; Schultz and Trapp 2003; Cox et al. 2005), but this was long before the current generation of students arrived on campus. For upper-division undergraduate and graduate students, we would like to use the DOW to:

  1. provide a hands-on experience in the design and execution of a field radar to examine precipitation systems
  2. create a case-study library that can be used in future courses and/or for students to use for their senior capstone research projects. 

See the complete SOLPEX-REO Facility Request

SOLPEX Final Report

A group of 18 graduate and undergraduate students planned and led several field deployments of DOW6 to examine lake-effect, orographic, and frontal precipitation events (Fig. 1). Some of these deployments also involved the use of up to 2 GPS-sounding systems, relocatable surface mesonet stations, and a car-mounted mobile mesonet station. Beyond the 18 actively involved students, several additional undergraduate and graduate students participated in one or more of these field deployments. Prior to the arrival of DOW6, the students prepared short proposals and operations plans in four key areas:

  1. lake-effect precipitation
  2. orographic precipitation
  3. fronts & severe weather (the latter a bit of a lark)
  4. microphysical processes and polarimetric radar

DOW deployments were classified as either Educational Observing Periods (EOPs) or Intensive Observing Periods (IOPs). EOPs were training focused and designed primarily for students to learn how to deploy and operate the radar. IOPs involved deployments to examine specific weather phenomenon and were more strongly concentrated on education in radar interpretation and mountain meteorology, with an additional goal of obtaining high-quality datasets for future student research projects. Read the complete SOLPEX-REO Final Report.




Dashing Through the Snow, in a One-Truck Radar Dish
National Science Foundation
6 December 2011

Doppler on Wheels
The Madeleine Choir School
28 November 2011

Research students use mobile Doppler to learn more about Utah snow
24 November 2011

Storm Chasers of Utah
10 November 2011