A technique for the automatic detection of insect clutter in cloud radar returns

Edward P. Luke, Pavlos Kollias, Karen L. Johnson, Eugene E. Clothiaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program operates 35-GHz millimeter-wavelength cloud radars (MMCRs) in several climatologically distinct regions. The MMCRs, which are centerpiece instruments for the observation of clouds and precipitation, provide continuous, vertically resolved information on all hydrometeors above the ARM Climate Research Facilities (ACRF). However, their ability to observe clouds in the lowest 2-3 km of the atmosphere is often obscured by the presence of strong echoes from insects, especially during the warm months at the continental midlatitude Southern Great Plains (SGP) ACRF. Here, a new automated technique for the detection and elimination of insect-contaminated echoes from the MMCR observations is presented. The technique is based on recorded MMCR Doppler spectra, a feature extractor that conditions insect spectral signatures, and the use of a neural network algorithm for the generation of an insect (clutter) mask. The technique exhibits significant skill in the identification of insect radar returns (more than 92% of insect-induced returns are identified) when the sole input to the classifier is the MMCR Doppler spectrum. The addition of circular polarization observations by the MMCR and ceilometer cloud-base measurements further improve the performance of the technique and form an even more reliable method for the removal of insect radar echoes at the ARM site. Recently, a 94-GHz Doppler polarimetric radar was installed next to the MMCR at the ACRF SGP site. Observations by both radars are used to evaluate the potential of the 94-GHz radar as being insect free and to show that dual wavelength radar reflectivity measurements can be used to identify insect radar returns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1513
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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