What is Weather Radar?
How Does it Work?
A weather radar is an instrument used to locate precipitation, calculate its motion, intensity, and determine the type (rain, snow, hail, etc.). A weather radar sends out a pulse of electromagnetic energy into the atmosphere. If that piece of energy interacts with something in the environment, it will reflect energy back to the weather radar and we can sense it. Today most radars use the Doppler effect and have dual-polarization. A Doppler radar determines whether movement is toward or away from the radar. Dual-polarization is a combination of radar design and software algorithms that help identify the type of precipitation.
Radars have four basic components:
- A transmitter, which generates the energy pulse
- An antenna to send these pulses out into the atmosphere and receive the reflected pulse back
- A receiver, which detects and amplifies the signal
- A display system
Benefits of Weather Radar
Weather radar is an integral part of modern weather observation systems. Weather radar supports operations of
- national meteorological institutes,
- hydrological services,
- aviation authorities,
- and various other applications.
Weather radar enables more efficient decision making, improved situational awareness, better warnings, and forecasts. And when integrated with other information, such as lightning data, weather radars provide an additional layer of meteorological data to increase safety and improve operational efficiency.