Radio Tomography for Atmospheric Science

Project: Research council


The recently released United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report 2013, has highlighted a number of significant changes to our global climate. In particular there are indications that there are significant changes in the global hydrological cycle which governs the amount of rainfall we receive and an increased likelihood of the occurrence of certain types of extreme weather conditions. Although, there is no compelling evidence for increased occurrence of severe weather phenomena such as thunderstorms, this caused by the relative lack of small-scale high-resolution observations. Flooding from rain and thunderstorms is the leading cause of deaths associated with natural disasters, being responsible for almost 7 million deaths in the 20th century. Critically while the general lifecycle of thunderstorms is very well understood, the exact circumstances leading to the development of large thunderstorms are still something of a mystery. The computer based models run by the world's meteorological agencies to predict such events have been continuously improving but are reaching the point where their accuracy is being limited by the number, quality and type of observations (measurements) essential to their operation. The aim of this research project is to build a new instrument that will be able to make valuable new measurements which will strengthen our understanding of the development of severe thunderstorms. This project will build an instrument that jointly maps moisture fluxes and atmospheric electrical activity with a view to enabling science to better understand the conditions leading up to the formation of thunderstorms. Specifically, the project will develop network of instruments which will produce images using techniques similar to those used in MRI medical imaging scanners. The improved understanding of the formation of thunderstorms will greatly assist the prediction of severe weather and allow better warnings to be issued reducing the risk to human life and property.
Effective start/end date30/04/1429/04/15


severe weather
moisture flux
cause of death
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
hydrological cycle
natural disaster
United Nations
atmospheric science
global climate