System Integration and Test Experiment (SITE)

Where: NOAA Aircraft Operations Center, Lakeland, Florida

When: Summer 2021

SITE logo

Over 8 weeks CSL scientists from the Atmospheric Remote Sensing group install and test an airborne Micro-pulse Doppler lidar (MicroDop) system on the NOAA WP-3D and NOAA Twin Otter research aircraft to evaluate the instrument's sensitivity and performance for measurements of dynamics associated with organized convective systems, diurnal coastal flows and wildfires. The project is based out of the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Lakeland, Florida.

The NOAA WP-3D is NOAA's "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft. SITE WP-3D tests are a collaboration with the NOAA AOML Hurricane Research Division (HRD), who are interested in exploring how the MicroDop lidar would perform for airborne hurricane research. Measurements made with this small form factor lidar would help "fill the gap" in dynamics measurements. Radars measure in-cloud dynamics, while lidars provide similar information in the clear air. Together, they give a more complete view and provide information hurricane models need to increase their prediction skill.

If installation and ground-testing are successful and weather conditions are favorable, test flights will be conducted into organized convective systems and lidar observations will be evaluated against dropsondes that HRD has contributed to the project.

The installation and test flights on the NOAA Twin Otter are in preparation for the upcoming California Fire Dynamics Experiment (CalFiDE) 2022 campaign examining fire dynamics and behavior in California, and for Coastal Urban Plume Dynamics Study (CUPiDS) 2023, which will investigate coastal urban dynamics relevant to air quality. The SITE tests will allow scientists to optimize the lidar scanner viewing geometry and test the performance of the scanner and motion compensation systems in flight.