About Project CRAFT

 

The US National Weather Service (NWS) recently completed the installation of 120 WSR-88D (NEXRAD) Doppler weather radars, concurrent with which was the deployment of 26 Department of Defense and 12 Federal Aviation Administration radars.  Although these systems originally were designed without archival capability for the full-volume, full-precision Level II (base) data, an archival strategy based upon 8 mm tape technology eventually was implemented.  Since 1992, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has been archiving the data tapes and using the same media to provide base data to the national community.  Although an innovative and satisfactory solution several years ago, the tape system is extremely human-resource intensive, costly, inefficient, and unreliable. 

In an attempt to begin addressing the long-term needs for WSR-88D base data archival, and in light of the compelling need for real time access to base data for use in a variety of applications, especially numerical weather prediction, the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) at the University of Oklahoma joined forces in 1998 with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Unidata Program, the University of Washington, the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), and the WSR-88D Operational Support Facility (now the Radar Operations Center - ROC) to establish the Collaborative Radar Acquisition Field Test (CRAFT).  The principal goal of CRAFT is to demonstrate the real time compression and internet-based transmission of WSR-88D base data from multiple radars with a view toward nationwide implementation.   The initial test bed of 6 radars, located in and around Oklahoma, has been delivering real time base data since early 1999 with virtually no interruptions.  Since then, 61 other radars have been added, and now the NCDC is now ingesting data from all 67 CRAFT radars.  Efforts are now underway to explore applying the CRAFT concept to other surveillance radar systems, especially those operated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

In mid-2001, with consent from NOAA/National Weather Service following the expiration of the NIDS distribution agreement, Project CRAFT began working with both the academic and private sectors to evaluate the CRAFT concept -- particularly its reliability and timeliness of data delivery.  Further, provision of the experimental data stream to these sectors was viewed as a means for stimulating R&D.  Several dozen partners now are receiving Level II data in real time as part of this evaluation, and the opportunity continues to remain open to everyone.  For further details, please contact Kelvin Droegemeier at kkd@ou.edu