Doppler on Wheels (DOW) Makes Debut At SOEST Open House

University of Hawaiʻi
Cindy Knapman, (808) 956-7410
UH Sea Grant Communications Leader, Sea Grant
Michael Bell, (808) 264-8504
Assistant Professor, Hawaii Educational Radar Opportunity (HERO)
Posted: Oct 24, 2013

Doppler on Wheels Advanced Weather Radar Among Hands-On Exhibits Highlighted at UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) Open House

A high-tech mobile radar called the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) makes its Hawai‘i debut and is just one of the many exciting, hands-on exhibits at the 12th biennial SOEST Open House, where the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will welcome thousands of school children and kids of all ages on Friday and Saturday.  Over 6,600 people attended the last SOEST Open House held in 2011. This year marks SOEST’s 25th anniversary and promises to be even more exciting than ever.

It is just one of nearly 70 exhibits including:

Make-A-Quake: Make a REAL EARTHQUAKE in a model of the Pacific region.

Doppler on Wheels (DOW): This mobile radar from the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colorado will be on display with scientists to answer questions about the weather.

Explosive Eruptions: Safe demonstration of an explosive eruption fueled by liquid nitrogen. In less than 1 second, an explosion will carry 20 gallons of water into a 10-meter high eruption column.

Pelagic Fisheries Research Program: Exhibit of fish/shark specimens, science equipment, and videos. Lots to see, touch, and explore!

Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL): Video highlights from HURL’s recent dive season using the University of Hawaii’s three-man submersibles, the Pisces IV and the Pisces V.

Meteorites from Mars: See actual meteorites from the Red Planet.

Fascinating Creatures of the Deep Sea: Be introduced to the cold deep sea of Antarctica, deep-sea fisheries around Hawai‘i, and some unusual marine inhabitants captured on deep-sea expeditions.

Inner Space: The James Cameron Experience: Come see the geology and biology of the world’s deepest ocean trench, up close and personal with one of James Cameron’s science advisors.

The  2013 SOEST Open House runs Friday, October 25, 2013 (8:30 a.m.- 2 p.m.) and Saturday, October 26, 2013 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.).  The open house is spread out between four buildings at UH Mānoa (HIG, MSB, POST and Holmes) and six tents.  The DOW will be parked in the loading zone behind the POST building. Here is a link to map:

Students and scientists at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa have an opportunity to use the latest generation of weather technology and explore the skies around O’ahu this week thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Hawaiian Educational Radar Opportunity (HERO) project started on October 21, 2013 with the arrival of an advanced weather radar called the Doppler on Wheels (DOW). This high-tech mobile radar is mounted on a truck that can travel around the island of O’ahu to study clouds and rain in the Hawaiian Islands. HERO is the first time a mobile weather radar has visited Hawai’i, and it provides a unique, hands-on opportunity for students to study the weather in the tropics.

“Weather radar is one of the most powerful technologies we have to investigate the structure of clouds, rain showers, and thunderstorms,” says Assistant Professor Michael Bell, the lead scientist on the HERO project. “Having a high-tech radar that we can drive up close to interesting weather is a great experience for students that turns the whole island into a classroom.”

HERO is a three-week project sponsored by a special Educational Deployment of the NSF’s Lower Atmospheric Observing Facilities. The Educational Deployment funds small projects using radars, weather balloons, and other research facilities for Universities to introduce students to the latest advancements in atmospheric science, and encourage careers in science, technology, and mathematics. The DOW is part of a cooperative facility managed by NSF and the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colorado. The DOW radar utilizes an advanced technology called “dual-polarization” that can provide valuable information on the size and shape of cloud and rain drops that scientists use to better predict heavy rain and severe weather. The radar has collected unique data from many storms around the world, most recently in the devastating tornado near Moore, Oklahoma.

The HERO project runs through November 13, 2013 as part of a graduate-level course called “Radar Meteorology”, with the students operating the DOW radar and collecting data at different sites around O’ahu. The learning experience is not limited to graduate students, however. Undergraduates are also helping to support the project by providing forecasts of rainfall and assisting with the radar deployment and weather balloon launches. The National Weather Service is also an integral partner in HERO, helping to teach the students about forecasting and using the weather data collected to aid in public forecasts and weather warnings.

"We are excited to be working with the Unviersity of Hawai‘i Meterology Department on the HERO project.  The unique data collected will benefit our forecasters in both real time, as well as in the future as the research yields new understandings about small-scale weather patterns in Hawai‘i," said Robert Ballard, Science and Operations Officer for the National Weather Service in Honolulu.


The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa was established by the Board of Regents of the University of Hawai‘i in 1988 in recognition of the need to realign and further strengthen the excellent education and research resources available within the University. SOEST brings together four academic departments, three research institutes, several federal cooperative programs, and support facilities of the highest quality in the nation to meet challenges in the ocean, earth and planetary sciences and technologies.


The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the private sector and government to build a thriving $1-billion research enterprise in Hawaii that will develop a third major economic sector for the State, create thousands of high-quality living-wage jobs, and address the challenges and opportunities that face our communities and the world to improve our quality-of-life.  More information about the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative is available online at