One of the 6 tools our meteorologist use to forecast weather

Weather Observations Research

The Weather Observations Research program supports research to improve weather observations technology critical for the detection and forecasting of hazardous weather phenomena. In pursuit of this goal, the Observations Program works closely with the weather observations research and operational communities in government, academia, and private industry to develop and transition weather observations technology into operations. Four research focus areas the Observations Program supports include: 

  • Infrasound Detection of Tornadoes and High Impact Weather seeks to improve the understanding of infrasound as it relates to the detection of tornadoes in the United States (U.S.), particularly the Southeast U.S.; the potential operational forecasting and warning benefits; and the limits of temporal and spatial detectability with various infrasound observing network configurations (e.g., how precisely can source locations be determined, measures of detectability and warning such as false alarm rate and probability of detection, etc.). 
  • Airborne Phased Array Radar is a critical tool for studying weather and related hazards, especially over rugged terrain or the open ocean where operations are inherently challenging. Major advances in radar technology have paved the way for development of an Airborne Phased Array Radar (APAR) to provide more detailed observations from within high-impact weather systems. An APAR system is currently being designed and developed by NCAR for installation on the NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft. This will provide more agile scanning strategies and enhanced capabilities for researchers to advance science frontiers.
  • Snowpack and Soil Moisture Observations and Data Assimilation to Improve the National Water Model (NWM): Both snow depth (snow water equivalent) and soil moisture are important in the hydrologic cycle and as inputs to the National Water Model, but current measurements of both are spatially and temporally sparse and not well assimilated and parameterized into the physics of the NWM. Improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and accuracy of obtaining and applying these measurements will improve the outputs of the NWM and the benefits to society.
  • Next Generation of Mesoscale Weather Observing Platforms: The National Academy of Science report Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up (2009) underscores the importance of improved observations of the lower atmosphere to better understand and predict specific high impact weather events. This funding opportunity will focus on research and development to advance the next generation of operational mesoscale weather observing platforms needed by the weather and water enterprise.


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Weather Observations Overview Download


Click links to download Additional Information

Severe Weather 101: Tornado Detection

Airborne Phased Array Radar (APAR)

The National Water Model

Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks


National Oceanic and Atmopsheric Administration Disaster Related Appropriation Supplemental (DRAS) orecasting a Continum of Environmental Threats (FACETs) Joint Technology Transfer Initiative (JTTI) National Earth System Prediction Capability (National ESPC) Next Generation Global Prediction System (NGGPS) Social Science Program Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S) Testbed and Air Quality Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (the Weather Act)