Tornado hunters in the Black Forest

Mobile radar systems are designed to monitor the development of thunderstorms

Doppler on wheels © University of Hohenheim
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The world's largest rain research project COPS receives reinforcement from the USA. For the first time, two mobile radar systems are being used in the Black Forest, the so-called Doppler-on-Wheels. These not only serve as Tornadojäger, but are also to watch the development of thunderstorms.

The mobile Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) scan the atmosphere within a few minutes in the so-called X-band frequency range. Famous in the US, these mobile devices have been used to study tornadoes, measuring the world record wind speed record near the center of a tornado at 510 kilometers per hour.

Heavy thunderstorms instead of tornadoes

Fortunately, less tornadoes are to be feared in Germany, but even severe thunderstorms, such as those that have already occurred this summer, offer ideal measuring conditions for the DOW. They can be installed and operated where the local evolution of the atmosphere is particularly important. The critical area stretches from the Vosges over the Rhine Valley, the Black Forest to the Swabian Alb. Meanwhile, for the first time ever, the DOWs in Germany measured a wind trouser that appeared over the Black Forest.

"It's fascinating to look at complex wind structures before thunderstorms. Once you've seen them, you realize how much more needs to be done to improve the prediction of extreme events in weather and climate models, "says Professor Volker Wulfmeyer from the Institute of Physics and Meteorology, University of Hohenheim, who co-authored the project with Tammy Weckwerth from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Josh Wurman from the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder (USA).

The DOWs have already delivered some valuable contributions to the COPS global weather research campaign. "Personally, I'm really looking forward to spending a few days with the DOWs and the extreme weather experts from the USA, and taking part in the measurements, " says Wulfmeyer. The DOWs are still active until 15 August 2007 for the COPS project in Germany. display

The COPS project

The COPS (Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study) is part of the United Nations World Weather Research Program - World Weather Research Program of the World Meteorological Organization. All 20 meteorological institutions in Germany and the leading research centers for meteorology from France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and the USA are involved.

(idw - University of Hohenheim, 14.08.2007 - DLO)