NOAA Researchers Honored for Outstanding Scientific Publications

2009 Awards Presented to Five Norman Scientists

October 13, 2009

Five Norman-area researchers have received 2009 Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research for work that is expected to enable earlier warnings for severe storms.

Richard W. Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research, and Alexander E. MacDonald, Ph.D., NOAA deputy assistant administrator for Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes, announced the awards in a recent organization-wide meeting. The five Norman-area recipients conduct research in the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory and the NOAA-funded Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Their paper reflects the pre-eminence, the vision and the passion of NOAA researchers,” Spinrad said. “Their work provides a strong foundation for understanding the complex oceanic and atmospheric systems that govern our planet.” 

The research team includes:

The team evaluated the performance of phased array radar technology that has the potential to produce scans of the atmosphere faster than the Doppler radar systems used in weather forecasting today. The radar was used to scan three Oklahoma storms — a supercell thunderstorm, a microburst-producing thunderstorm and a hailstorm — to compare data gathered by the phased array and Doppler radar systems.

Using the rapid scan capability of the phased array radar, the researchers found that for each type of storm more detailed clues were detected prior to the development of severe weather. Faster scans showed rapid re-intensification in a supercell, the entire life cycle of a microburst, and more details to determine the threat of hail.

Further testing and development of phased array radar technology could ultimately increase the lead time for severe storm warnings and provide people more time to seek shelter.

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