NASA's IPHEx Field Campaign Lands Here in the Carolinas - myfoxcarolinas.com

NASA's IPHEx Field Campaign Lands Here in the Carolinas

Posted: Updated:
NASA's D3R (left) and NPOL (right) Radars on site in Rutherfordton, NC NASA's D3R (left) and NPOL (right) Radars on site in Rutherfordton, NC
  • Melissa Le FevreMore>>

  • Meteorologist Melissa Le Fevre

    Meteorologist Melissa Le Fevre

    Friday, June 6 2014 10:21 AM EDT2014-06-06 14:21:29 GMT
    Before moving to Charlotte to be part of the My Fox Carolinas family, I was a meteorologist and weather producer for CNN, CNNi and HLN in Atlanta. I forecasted for and covered all major weather events in 2013, including the deadly tornado season, Typhoon Haiyan and the flooding in Colorado. I grew up in Atlanta and found my love of weather at the early age of eight.
    Before moving to Charlotte to be part of the My Fox Carolinas family, I was a meteorologist and weather producer for CNN, CNNi and HLN in Atlanta. I forecasted for and covered all major weather events in 2013, including the deadly tornado season, Typhoon Haiyan and the flooding in Colorado. I grew up in Atlanta and found my love of weather at the early age of eight.
  • Surprising Tips to Stay Safe in Thunderstorms

    Surprising Tips to Stay Safe in Thunderstorms

    Wednesday, June 25 2014 12:31 PM EDT2014-06-25 16:31:21 GMT
    It’s officially summer and with the warmer weather, we are all ready to head outdoors. North Carolina sees an average of 40 to 50 thunderstorm days per year. More than 300 people are struck by lightning each year in the United States.
    It’s officially summer and with the warmer weather, we are all ready to head outdoors. North Carolina sees an average of 40 to 50 thunderstorm days per year. More than 300 people are struck by lightning each year in the United States.
  • The Relationship between Carbon Dioxide and Global Nutrition

    The Relationship between Carbon Dioxide and Global Nutrition

    Sunday, June 1 2014 3:31 PM EDT2014-06-01 19:31:03 GMT
    Carbon Dioxide and its Effect on CropsCarbon Dioxide and its Effect on Crops
    Change can be a good thing, but new research shows increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere will affect global nutrition, and not in a positive way.
    Change can be a good thing, but new research shows increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere will affect global nutrition, and not in a positive way.
Rutherfordton, NC - Driving down Lambs Grill Road, you’ll see homes, farmland, and through June 15th, two state of the art radars.

The site is causing quite the buzz in Rutherfordton, and has people driving up the gravel road asking David Wolff and his team what they are up to.

It’s a question David, a NASA research scientist and meteorologist, is more than happy to answer.

We're here for two purposes. One is to help validate a global satellite launched by NASA on February 27th, called a Global Precipitation Measurement Mission. And also we're here to help with a field campaign to do that same job, which is with Duke University and NOAA.”

The team is part of the Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx) Field Campaign. In short, it’s a ground validation campaign that is taking place in the Appalachian Mountains.

While you may think of the final frontier when you hear NASA, there’s no better planet to study and understand than our own. This field campaign will help continue improving forecasts for you and your loved ones.

The campaign began on May 1st and their goal is to see how well the precipitation-monitoring satellites correspond to what we are measuring on the ground. They will also use the data they record to help evaluate how atmospheric models are behaving when it comes to the hydrology of our region.

The research isn’t limited to Rutherford County. There are a number of ground based instruments and other radars in the Pigeon River Basin and the Catawba River Basin. All aimed at understanding the precipitation and hydrology around the area.

Rob Beauchamp, a research assistant at Colorado State University and member of the field campaign, says this research is “Helping us target areas like North Carolina and South Carolina. How do the mountains affect precipitation and then the water flow from that downstream. These field campaigns we're doing with NASA, it's really a part of getting a more detailed understanding of specific geographical locations and areas.”

First, a little radar 101. Radars send out pulses of microwave energy. These microwaves travel at the speed of light and the pulses bounce off particles in the atmosphere. When they encounter particles such as rain, sleet, hail, etc., some of the energy is scattered back to the antenna on the radar.

If there is a large number of particles and they are bigger in size, the return signal will be higher. And larger rain drops are related to heavier rainfall rates.

Think of it like this: greater the size/number = greater return signal. That’s why the reds and pinks on the radar are associated with heavy rain or hail and the lighter greens mean light rainfall.

The larger of the two radars, is known as NASA’s Polarized S-band radar, or NPOL for short. It is a scanning dual-polarimetric radar and is one of two S-band systems in the entire world that is mobile and can be transported. NPOL is the latest in radar technology and is similar to the National Weather Service radars.

What do we mean by dual-polarimetric? That means the radar has not only a horizontal component, but a vertical one as well. Having horizontal and vertical pulses allows the radar to more accurately determine a hydrometeors’ shape, type and size.

“This radar is actually NASA’s premier radar. It allows us to actually discriminate between rain, sleet, hail and snow…It’s our ability to detect different types of particles and what we call hydrometeors in the atmosphere that allows us to do a much better estimate of the rainfall and the rain rates,” said David.

Don’t let the size of the Dual-frequency, Dual-polarization, Doppler Radar (D3R) fool you though. It was developed by NASA and Colorado State University and packs quite the punch.

David describes the D3R as “A polarized radar, but it also has two frequencies. And those frequencies match the radar that's on board the GPM satellite, so when we're comparing overpasses with GPM and the D3R we'll be able to kind of match apples and apples.”

The frequencies see precipitation in different ways. Higher frequencies are more sensitive to smaller particles (such as ice and light rain) in the atmosphere while lower frequencies work better for moderate precipitation.

The team can compare what the radar sees with what the satellite sees and fine tune mathematic algorithms on the satellite.

“The same frequencies are trying to really look at how does a ground radar see precipitation so we can compare to what the satellite is seeing to help enhance algorithms that the satellite uses and to just better understand precipitation from different points of view,” explained Rob.

Essentially validating and improving upon the methods used when the satellite and radar agree with one another. And when the two don’t see eye to eye, diving deeper into the physics of why they don’t match up.

The goal of the campaign is greater than the Carolinas, even greater than the United States. The results have global implications. The work done here can improve flash flood forecasting, mudslide forecasting and help map precipitation all over the world.

Rob realizes how the mission reaches around the world. “Part of the GPM Mission, when we’re looking at some of the sub-arctic, is really when we get that snowfall, if we can measure it with radars and then it starts to melt, how does that really affect the global water cycle.”

So take a drive out to Lambs Grill Road and you’ll have the opportunity to see cutting-edge research and technology up close. David and his team welcome and encourage visitors. It’s something you’ll never forget, come rain or shine.

Learn more about the IPHEx Field Campaign
here


  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Danielle Stradford - Softball Sensation at Age 14

    Danielle Stradford - Softball Sensation at Age 14

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:35 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:35:45 GMT
    Danielle Stradford is a 14-year old softball player who's ahead of the game.  Meet her, her family, her coach and her teammates.
    Danielle Stradford is a 14-year old softball player who's ahead of the game.  Meet her, her family, her coach and her teammates.
  • Pair Your Favorite Beer With Your Favorite Food

    Pair Your Favorite Beer With Your Favorite Food

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:31 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:31:56 GMT
    Have you ever wondered how to pair great foods with beer, well Cesar Leyva from Cheers Charlotte Radio has those answers!Cesar joined us on Good Day and brought a few locally brewed beers and gave us the rundown on which foods they pair best with.
    Have you ever wondered how to pair great foods with beer, well Cesar Leyva from Cheers Charlotte Radio has those answers!Cesar joined us on Good Day and brought a few locally brewed beers and gave us the rundown on which foods they pair best with.
  • House Training Your Cat

    House Training Your Cat

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:28 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:28:14 GMT
    If you are a cat owner, then you know how difficult it can be from keeping your furry friend from using the bathroom wherever and whenever they want.
    If you are a cat owner, then you know how difficult it can be from keeping your furry friend from using the bathroom wherever and whenever they want.
Powered by WorldNow

WJZY FOX 46
3501 Performance Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28214
Main Number: (704) 398-0046

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices