This Major Research Instrumentation award is for the acquisition of a radar system for the study of wildfire plumes and cloud and precipitation processes. The small radar system will be deployable on a trailer that can be towed by a pickup truck, allowing for up-close data collection on wildfires. The system will also be used in a stationary mode to collect data on cloud and precipitation processes in coastal and mountainous environments. The ability to better predict fire plume behavior and fire-atmosphere interactions will help to inform fire fighters and other emergency personnel in their efforts to fight fire safely and make informed decisions. The radar system will also be used as an educational tool at a Minority Serving Institution, providing hands-on experience to students.
The research team will acquire a Ka-band dual-polarization radar for studies of wildfire smoke plume dynamics and clouds and precipitation in coastal and mountainous regions. The radar will be trailer-mounted and incorporated into SJSU's existing mobile atmospheric profiling system. When the radar is not remotely deployed, it will be placed at a rooftop observatory on the SJSU campus. For wildfires, the retrieved data will include mean and turbulent plume properties, ash particle size and shape distributions, and details pertaining to the onset of pyro-convective clouds, including the formation of ice in the upper troposphere. These data will significantly advance the nascent science of wildfire plume dynamics. Cloud study topics will include orographic and convective lifting mechanism and the formation and evolution of orographic cirrus clouds.