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Monitoring System for Atmospheric Water Vapor with a Ground-Based Multi-Band Radiometer: Meteorological Application of Radio Astronomy Technologies

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High-resolution estimation of thermodynamic properties in the atmosphere can help to predict and mitigate meteorological disasters, such as local heavy rainfall and tornadic storms. For the purposes of short-term forecasting and nowcasting of severe storms, we propose a novel ground-based measurement system, which observes the intensity of atmospheric radiation in the microwave range. Our multi-band receiver system is designed to identify a rapid increase in water vapor before clouds are generated. At frequencies between 20 and 30 GHz, our system simultaneously measures water vapor as a broad absorption peak at 22 GHz as well as cloud liquid water. Another band at 50–60 GHz provides supplementary information from oxygen radiation to give vertical profiles of physical temperature. For the construction of this cold receiver system, novel technologies originally developed for observations of cosmic microwave background radiation were applied. The input atmospheric signal is amplified by a cold low-noise amplifier maintained below 10 K, while the spectrum of this amplified signal is measured using a signal analyzer under ambient conditions. The cryostat also contains a cold black body at 40 K to act as a calibration signal. This calibration signal is transported to each of the receivers via a wire grid. We can select either the atmospheric signal or the calibration signal by changing the orientation of this wire. Each receiver can be calibrated using this setup. Our system is designed to be compact (\(<\)1 m\(^{3}\)), with low power consumption (\(\sim \)1.5 kW). Therefore, it is easy to deploy on top of high buildings, mountains, and ship decks.

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We would like to thank START (Program for Creating STart-ups from Advanced Research and Technology), the cosmic microwave background radiation group at KEK, and the observational astrophysics laboratory at the University of Tsukuba for support.

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Correspondence to T. Nagasaki.

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Nagasaki, T., Araki, K., Ishimoto, H. et al. Monitoring System for Atmospheric Water Vapor with a Ground-Based Multi-Band Radiometer: Meteorological Application of Radio Astronomy Technologies. J Low Temp Phys 184, 674–679 (2016).

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