(Front Row: L - R) UPRM Professor José Colom Ustariz, Engineering Dean Jaime Seguel, Professor Sandra Cruz-Pol and Chancellor Jorge Rivera Santos cut ribbon as NWS Southern Region Dir. Bill Proenza and UPRM staff observe (Photo: UPRM).
(Aug. 20, 2012) - While distance, curvature of the earth and mountainous terrain limit the ability of WFO San Juan's Doppler radar to monitor the island's western region, a new low-power, short-range radar network will help fill the gap.
The new TropiNET network was dedicated August 16 at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM). When completed, it will consist of three Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) radar nodes designed to supplement the existing National Weather Service NEXRAD radar, located 64 miles away in Cayey, P.R.
The first TropiNET radar node was installed in March and site preparations continue for the rest of the network. When it is fully operational, it will help overcome many of the existing limitations.
The new radar network will also feature dual polarization technology which not only provides information on precipitation intensity and movement (direction and speed), but also adds information about the size and shape of airborne objects, which will enhance estimates of how much rain is falling and improve flash flood detection and warnings.
(At table: L - R) NWS Southern Region Dir. Bill Proenza, UPRM Professor José Colom Ustariz, Professor Sandra Cruz-Pol, Engineering Dean Jaime Seguel (Photo: UPRM)
CASA radar node in Puerto Rico.
As a tropical region, Puerto Rico has one of the planet's most unpredictable and varied climates. That variability, the mountainous topography, urban development and torrential rains can cause life-threatening flash floods, mudslides, landslides and other precipitation-related hazards in just a matter of minutes.
Principal investigators in the TropiNET project are UPRM Professors Sandra Cruz-Pol and José Colom Ustariz. The network is also composed of experts, students and staff of the campus who work in close collaboration with researchers from Colorado State University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Oklahoma.
The Puerto Rico network is part of an ongoing, broad-based project to test the viability of Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere technology. Launched in 2003 with primary funding from a National Science Foundation grant, the project included a recently-completed four-year test in rural Oklahoma; and a five-year study to test the CASA technology in an urban setting that is now being launched in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.