Due to intense rainfall powered by El Niño, Peru suffered flashfloods and mudslides a couple years ago, which greatly affected the country’s people and infrastructure. Salazar-Cerreno, an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and native of Peru, vowed to find a way to increase Peru’s preparedness for future natural events.
Part of the solution, Salazar-Cerreno believes, rests with radar technology.
“The advanced radar technology gives faster updates with significantly more informative and accurate data,” says Salazar-Cerreno, who also specializes in advanced weather radar design at the Advanced Radar Research Center (ARRC). “If we could work with Peru to install the radars, we could improve weather decision making and warnings.”
Peru mostly monitors weather conditions with satellite systems, which utilize “digital still and video images to track objects such as clouds, dust storms and wildfires. However, satellites can’t show rainfall because they have low-resolution images and can’t provide actual measurements of rainfall rate,” according to the university.
However, high-resolution can be achieved through radar, and it can reveal aspects that are lost to satellites, such as the speed, direction, and characteristics of precipitation.
“Satellites are beneficial, but they don’t capture the whole picture,” explains Salazar-Cerreno. “Radar networks in addition to satellites can lead to better warning alerts and preparation.”
Due to past precedence and cost, the Andean nation has left radar out of its weather prediction wheelhouse, according to the University of Oklahoma. To help up knowledge around the technology and its long-term cost efficiency, Salazar-Cerreno and five other faculty members held a week-long, educational workshop for public officials and industry leaders.
The university declared the worship a “success,” with the Peruvian government convinced radar was the right path to better prepare for dangerous weather.
As a result, Peru subsequently tested its first weather radar, thanks to a collaborate effort between the University of Oklahoma, Jicamarca Radio Observatory, and Geophysics Institute of Peru.
“The ARRC deployed the PX1000, a transportable, polarimetric radar to one region during the rainy season for three months. After gathering significant meteorological data, Peruvian officials decided to develop their own radar with assistance from the ARRC. Eventually, Salazar-Cerreno would like to see a whole network of radars in the country,” according to the University of Oklahoma.
Salazar-Cerreno says, “Peru needs at least dozens of radars to create a nationwide network to effectively detect another future deadly disaster. A solid network of radars can give enough time to prepare and prevent major fatalities.”