Met Éireann deploys new weather radar at Shannon Airport

13 Oct 2023

The older weather radar system at Shannon Airport. Image: Met Éireann

The state service said this is the first step in a plan to upgrade Ireland’s existing weather radar system and triple the number of radars from two to six.

Met Éireann, Ireland’s national meteorological service, has activated a new weather radar system at Shannon Airport to provide more accurate data.

The Irish service said its new system uses “dual-polarisation technology”, which will let meteorologists better distinguish between different types of precipitation such as rain, hail and snow. This technology also makes it easier to identify and remove non-meteorological data such as birds or insects.

Met Éireann said the new radar will lead to more precise and timely weather forecasts and warnings for significant weather events, which is beneficial to the public, emergency services, aviation, maritime, farming and other sectors.

Dr Sarah Gallagher, head of Met Éireann’s observations division, said this is an “important first step” in the upgrade of a critical source of weather data. Met Éireann has a strategic plan to upgrade its national weather radar network over the next ten years and triple the number of radars from two to six.

“The weather radar at Shannon Airport is vitally important as most of Ireland’s weather comes from the Atlantic, so Shannon is a fantastic location for the first detection and analysis of these rainfall events,” Gallagher said.

“This radar will increase the accuracy of our forecasts and of the rainfall radar service for the benefit of all. Our team is already analysing the radar’s new data with a view to further enhancing our service with new features next year.”

Gallagher said the upgrade was “complex” and required significant background work to examine the hardware, the civil works at the airport itself and to adapt Met Éireann’s systems to accommodate the new data.

“We’re excited to continue innovating and investing in science as part of our commitment to public safety and wellbeing,” Gallagher said. “We’re already researching sites for four additional radars to optimise rainfall detection and coverage capabilities across the country.”

In June, Met Éireann released the initial findings of its Translate project, which suggests that Ireland’s climate will become increasingly warmer in the coming decades.

The country is likely to experience fewer cold winter nights and up to a 10-fold increase in warm (temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius) summer nights.

Meanwhile, recent data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service claims last month was the hottest September on record. This data also suggests that 2023 will be the hottest year ever recorded.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic