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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

February

First Advisor

Stephen J. Frasier

Second Advisor

Paul Siqueira

Third Advisor

Michael Zink

Fourth Advisor

Gopal Narayanan

Subject Categories

Signal Processing

Abstract

Low-cost X-band radars are an emerging technology that offer significant advantages over traditional systems for weather remote sensing applications. X-band radars provide enhanced angular resolution at a fraction of the aperture size compared to larger, lower frequency systems. Because of their low cost and small form factor, these radars can now be integrated into more research and commercial applications. This work presents research and development activities using a low-cost, X-band (9410 MHz) Phase-Tilt Radar. The phase-tilt design is a novel phased array architecture that allows for rapid electronic scanning in azimuth and mechanical tilting in elevation, as a compromise between cost and performance.

This work focuses on field studies and experiments in three meteorological applications. The first stage of research focuses on the real-world application of phased array radars in forest fire monitoring and observation. From April to May 2013, a phase-tilt radar was deployed to South Australia and underwent a field campaign to make polarimetric observations of prescribed burns within and around the Adelaide Hills region. Measurements show the real-time evolution of the smoke plume dynamics at a spatial and temporal resolution that has never before been observed with an X-band radar. This dissertation will perform data analysis on results from this field campaign. Results are compared against existing work, theories, and approaches.

In the second stage of research, field experiments are performed to assess the data quality of X-band phased array radars. Specifically, this research focuses on the measurement of and techniques to improve the variance of weather product estimators for dual-polarized systems. Variability in the radar products is a complicated relationship between the radar system specifications, scanning strategy, and the physics governing precipitation. Here, the variance of the radar product estimators is measured using standard radar scanning strategies employed in traditional mechanical antenna systems. Results are compared against adaptive scan strategies such as beam multiplexing and frequency diversity. This work investigates the improvement that complex scanning strategies offer in dual-polarized, X-band phased array radar systems.

In the third stage of research, simulations and field experiments are conducted to investigate the performance benefits of adaptive scanning to optimize the data quality of radar returns. This research focuses on the development and implementation of a waveform agile and adaptive scanning strategy to improve the quality of weather product estimators. Active phased array radars allow radar systems to quickly vary both scan pointing angles and waveform parameters in response to real-time observations of the atmosphere. As an evolution of the previous research effort, this work develops techniques to adaptively change the scan pointing angles, transmit and matched filter waveform parameters to achieve a desired level of data quality. Strategies and techniques are developed to minimize the error between observed and desired data quality measures. Simulation and field experiments are performed to assess the quality of the developed strategies.

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