The Met Office is keeping a weather eye out with help from ATDI.
The organisation has bought ATDI’s flagship planning and modelling software ICS telecom to ensure its radars and other microwave radio uses continue to work correctly.
“We’re in a state of flux right now,” comments ATDI lead engineer Paul Grant. “The availability of key radio frequency bands used for purposes such as aviation, defence and meteorological radars is coming under increasing pressure for ever greater sharing with new services and the Met Office needs to be sure its own systems won’t suffer interference as that happens.”
In addition, the Met Office also needs to be aware of the potential impact from the growing numbers of wind turbines being erected and their impact on radars scanning the sky for cloud and rain.
“A wind turbine can produce false positives on radars,” Paul notes, “so the Met Office needs to be clearly aware of where these issues might arise.”
Weather radars are particularly susceptible to interference because, unlike air traffic control systems which track discrete targets (ie, aircraft), weather radars perform multiple elevation scans to obtain volume data from the atmosphere to establish whether cloud and rain are present.
“There will clearly be plenty of band-planning discussions going forward,” Paul comments. “Radars are rarely physically mobile in the civilian environment so solutions are going to have to be based on discussions among operators of potentially interfering systems.”
ATDI has already been involved in the analysis of whether Met Office radars can work with new frequencies. In 2010, the company produced a report on S-band radars which looked at all systems operating in the UK and evaluated which were suitable for movement into the S- band.
ATDI managing director Peter Paul adds: “It’s a British trait to make fun of the weather forecast but, when you look at the figures, the improvement in accuracy in recent years has been astounding – and, in part, that is due to the work the radars do. Everybody from pilots to farmers will tell you that a correct forecast can be the difference between life and death so it is gratifying that the Met Office has chosen ATDI’s software and consultancy to assist it in its vital work.”