The Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensitive of the Atmosphere is an NSF Engineering Research Center based at UMass-Amherst. The Center is developing networks of small, versatile radars that can "see" atmospheric phenomena such as tornadoes that occur in the lower regions of the atmosphere, below where current state-of-the-art Doppler radars can reliably detect. The aim is to detect such events sooner and in more detail. That capability is already being proven in the field by experimentally deployed networks of the radars.
For example, in July 2010, CASA graduate and undergraduate students designed, assembled, and installed an "off-the-grid," solar-powered and wireless radar system in a region of western Puerto Rico that the Doppler radar located south of San Juan cannot sense. This radar network testbed successfully imaged two damaging windstorms and transmitted data to the National Weather Service office in San Juan, allowing earlier warnings to be issued.
With its Accelerating Innovation Research grant, the CASA ERC will strengthen its ability to transition new technologies that improve the nation's ability to respond to severe weather.