The accuracy of Doppler radar wind retrievals using insects as targets
Rennie, S. J., Illingworth, A. J., Dance, S. L. and Ballard, S. P. (2010) The accuracy of Doppler radar wind retrievals using insects as targets. Meteorological Applications, 17 (4). pp. 419-432. ISSN 1469-8080
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/met.174
Insect returns from the UK's Doppler weather radars were collected in the summers of 2007 and 2008, to ascertain their usefulness in providing information about boundary layer winds. Such observations could be assimilated into numerical weather prediction models to improve forecasts of convective showers before precipitation begins. Significant numbers of insect returns were observed during daylight hours on a number of days through this period, when they were detected at up to 30 km range from the radars, and up to 2 km above sea level. The range of detectable insect returns was found to vary with time of year and temperature. There was also a very weak correlation with wind speed and direction. Use of a dual-polarized radar revealed that the insects did not orient themselves at random, but showed distinct evidence of common orientation on several days, sometimes at an angle to their direction of travel. Observation minus model background residuals of wind profiles showed greater bias and standard deviation than that of other wind measurement types, which may be due to the insects' headings/airspeeds and to imperfect data extraction. The method used here, similar to the Met Office's procedure for extracting precipitation returns, requires further development as clutter contamination remained one of the largest error contributors. Wind observations derived from the insect returns would then be useful for data assimilation applications.