HF radar systems

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HF radars are surface-based systems that measure backscatter from the ocean surface on spatial and temporal scales suitable for a wide range of engineering and oceanographic applications. They are usually located on the coast measuring out to 20–200km depending on the radio wavelength and parameter being measured.

Methods for inverting the integral equation that describes the relationship between HF radar backscatter and the ocean wave directional spectrum, and statistical methods for assessing the accuracy of the radar measurements are being developed. The success of these methods has been recognised internationally and has established the University of Sheffield as a centre of excellence in HF radar oceanographic applications.

This work was originally carried out using the PISCES long-range radar system. From 2003-2005 this was operational with funding from DEFRA and the UK Meteorological Office who were assessing its potential value for the UK wave monitoring network, WAVENET. We have more than one years near-continuous collection of waves, currents and winds with this system.

We have also worked with the OSCR HF radar system, which is a short-range high spatial resolution system that was commercially available for current measurement. This was used during an EC MAST2 contract, SCAWVEX, which also involved working with a German radar, WERA. Data from SCAWVEX experiments have been used for comparison with the wave model SWAN.

We participated in the EU MAST3 project EuroROSE, providing real time inversion software for WERA. In addition we processed more OSCR data collected during the SHOWEX experiment on the North Carolina coast.

The software package we have developed has been licensed to, and is being further developed and is available from, Seaview Sensing Ltd. It has been used with WERA radars in the UK, France, Germany, Oman, USA, Canada, Australia; with Pisces for dual-frequency radar feasibility trials funded by InnovateUK; with the University of Hawaii radar in Taiwan. Data from some of these deployments can be viewed on the Seaview website.

Selected HF radar projects