The Mobile Alabama X-Band Radar (MAX)

The Mobile Alabama X-Band Radar (MAX)

Probably the most well known tool in the meteorological world are the mobile radars. During the VORTEX projects that were centered in the Great Plains, the use of mobile radars became very popular. With a Doppler radar mounted on the back of a truck, mobile radar vehicles have the distinct advantage of being able to get within close proximity of weather of interest and able to scan below the National Weather Service WSR-88D radars.

In 2009, UAH completed its very own mobile radar vehicle, MAX. MAX has played a vital role in the research at SWIRLL from participating in landfalling hurricanes, lake breeze boundary layer experiments, and severe weather research over the Tennessee Valley. The MAX system features a Dual-polarization X-band radar, a 10-m surface instrument tower, and hydraulic leveling jacks.

MAX is typically operated by 1-3 personnel, accompanied by a weather balloon sounding system, and can be operational in 20-30 minutes. As with all of our SWIRLL platforms, MAX is operated by SWIRLL faculty, staff, and students.

MAX deployed at Courtland, AL for a VORTEX-SE IOP on 23 April 2020


Specifications:
  • Frequency: X-Band (9450 MHz)
  • Transmitter: Magentron
  • Polarization: Dual
  • Peak Transmit Power: 250 kW
  • Beamwidth: 0.95°
  • Antenna Size: 8ft
  • Variables Recorded: Z, V, W, ZDR, fDP, KDP, rhv, LDR
  • Receiver: RVP8

Components

Inside the MAX radar cabinet.

With the help of Baron Radar Services based here in Huntsville, MAX is equipt with Baron's own radar hardware and a Vaisala RVP8 radar processor. The radar components are housed within a climate controlled cabinet on the back of the truck.

MAX Data

Inside the MAX radar cabinet.

MAX plays a vital role in research operations here at UAH. Data gathered by MAX is used for research ranging from mesoscale kinematics to precipitation microphysics.