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Deployment, re-engineering and risk analysis of a C-band weather radar to build local capacity in South Africa
Du Preez, Ryno Gerhard
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A weather radar is an unparalleled tool, providing high spatio-temporal data over large areas to study storms and precipitation. The national weather radar network of South Africa is a world-class asset with enormous potential to provide real-time, high resolution data for various departments and research facilities. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the loss of skilled experts, and limited resources the South African Weather Services (SAWS) has been plagued by technical problems, struggling to maintain the entire system. The SAWS had also decommissioned most of their old C-band radars because of continued technical problems and interference from wireless LAN networks. This research project focusses on bringing awareness and building much needed capacity in the weather radar environment using the Design Science Research framework. The North-West University acquired an outdated weather radar system in 2013 with the intent to upgrade the outdated radar to a state-of-the-art research grade radar because the hardware and software of a radar system have changed over the past few decades. Old radars can be re-engineered to provide state-of-the-art data by replacing key components with modern equivalents The radar system was deployed on a site and operated for 9 months, after which it underwent partial re-engineering to improve the radar’s capabilities and reduce many of its known risks. From the data collected, scans were compared between the radar and the SAWS flagship radar, Irene, showing a strong similarity and therefore validating the quality and accuracy of the radar. All over the world similar weather radars are being abandoned, decommissioned and sold as spare parts, as were done in South Africa. One of the key aims of this project was to develop a methodology to extend the life of these old radars. This would make it possible for the SAWS to redeploy up to 6 radars in strategic locations to improve the resilience of the current network as well as to expand the coverage area. The process followed in this study can be used to re-deploy, re-engineer and conduct a risks analysis on similar weather radar systems throughout the world
- Engineering