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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2015, Article ID 407867, 8 pages
Research Article

Effects of Atmospheric Refraction on an Airborne Weather Radar Detection and Correction Method

1Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, NUIST, Nanjing 210044, China
2Atmospheric Sounding Technology Center in Sichuan Province, Chengdu 610072, China
3State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China

Received 9 March 2015; Accepted 28 May 2015

Academic Editor: Enrico Ferrero

Copyright © 2015 Lei Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study investigates the effect of atmospheric refraction, affected by temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity, on airborne weather radar beam paths. Using three types of typical atmospheric background sounding data, we established a simulation model for an actual transmission path and a fitted correction path of an airborne weather radar beam during airplane take-offs and landings based on initial flight parameters and X-band airborne phased-array weather radar parameters. Errors in an ideal electromagnetic beam propagation path are much greater than those of a fitted path when atmospheric refraction is not considered. The rates of change in the atmospheric refraction index differ with weather conditions and the radar detection angles differ during airplane take-off and landing. Therefore, the airborne radar detection path must be revised in real time according to the specific sounding data and flight parameters. However, an error analysis indicates that a direct linear-fitting method produces significant errors in a negatively refractive atmosphere; a piecewise-fitting method can be adopted to revise the paths according to the actual atmospheric structure. This study provides researchers and practitioners in the aeronautics and astronautics field with updated information regarding the effect of atmospheric refraction on airborne weather radar detection and correction methods.