CASA is a multi-sector partnership among academia, industry, and government dedicated to engineering revolutionary weather-sensing networks. These innovative networks will save lives and property by detecting the region of the lower atmosphere currently below conventional radar range - mapping storms, winds, rain, temperature, humidity, and the flow of airborne hazards.
CASA, the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, was established in 2003 as a prestigious National Science Foundation Engineering Center with over $40 million in federal, university, industry, and state funding. The Center brings together a multidisciplinary group of engineers, computer scientists, meteorologists, sociologists, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as industry and government partners to conduct fundamental research, develop enabling technology, and deploy prototype engineering systems based on a new paradigm: Distributed Collaborative Adaptive Sensing (DCAS) networks
Since 2010, the work of CASA has been supported by the Jerome M. Paros Fund for Measurement and Environmental Sciences Research.
Today's weather forecasting and warning systems utilize data from high-power, long-range radars that have limited ability to observe the lower part of the atmosphere because of the Earth's curvature. This means that meteorological conditions in the lower troposphere are under-sampled, leaving us with precious little predicting and detecting capability where most weather forms.
The Solution: DCAS Networks
CASA will overcome the effects of the Earth's curvature and obstructions such as mountains and buildings by deploying low-cost networks of Doppler radars that operate at short range. Installed on existing rooftops and cell towers just a few miles apart, these small radars will communicate with one another and adjust their sensing modes in response to quickly changing weather and user needs - a dramatic change from current technologies. Up-to-the-second radar information will then be transmitted to the people and organizations that make critical decisions about the weather.
CASA's new approach is called DCAS, Distributed Collaborative Adaptive Sensing. Distributed refers to the use of large numbers of small radars, appropriately spaced to overcome the Earth-curvature blockage that limits current approaches. The radars operate collaboratively within a dynamic information technology infrastructure, adapting to changing atmospheric conditions in a manner that meets competing end user needs.
CASA has conducted fundamental research in electromagnetic wave atmosphere interaction, new computing and communication infrastructures to support the DCAS paradigm, and lower atmosphere physics to establish the foundation for a new sensing and predicting paradigm. CASA has implemented scalable prototype test beds in Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, and most recently, Dallas - Fort Worth, in collaboration with industry and government partners and users of weather data.
Recently, CASA researchers have been exploring how other sensors can be used to enhance the capabilities of the network. A multi-scale array of high sensitivity, broadband barometers was installed in the Oklahoma network to sense infrasound signatures of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and other hazards.