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Overview: A Browser for TOGA-COARE Radar Data

The original TOGA-COARE radar rainfall products (rainfall rate, reflectivity, and classification) distributed by NASA are formatted as simple one-byte binary files that have a 556-byte header, followed by 278×278 array of data values. This distribution requires 3.36 GB of disk space.

IIHR personnel converted the products to a highly compressed Run-length Encoded (RLE) format that requires 282 MB of disk space. Reading the the-RLE formatted products is 4.5 times faster than reading the data in the original format (depending on exact configuration). A browser for the RLE-formatted data was also developed. This X-based (Motif) browser called TCRad enables the user to rapidly navigate to any point in the entire data set and display any of the products at the selected time.

The TCRad distribution consists of the following:

  • The TOGA-COARE data sets (rain rate, reflectivity, and classification) in RLE format;
  • C routines for reading the RLE-formatted data;
  • Examples files programs and UNIX Makefiles; and
  • Executables of the browser for the SGI and HPUX platforms.

The distribution is available on CD-ROM from the National Climatic Data Center. Contact T.F. Ross and mention the University of Iowa TOGA-COARE Radar Data on CD-ROM.


Polyak, I., North, G.R., Kucera, P.A., and  Smith, N.R., “Variability of the Tropical-Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment Rain Rate Observations,” Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 102, 11,1103–11,111, 1997.

Short, D.A., Kucera, P.A., Ferrier, B.S., Gerlach, J.C., Rutledge, S.A., and  Thiele, O.W., “Shipborne Radar Rainfall Patterns Within the TOGA/COARE IF,” Bulletin of American Meteorological Society, 78(12), 2817–2836, 1997.

TOGA COARE International Project Office, TOGA COARE Operations Plan, Working Version, UCAR, Boulder, Colo., 400 pp., 1992.

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Last modified on June 29th, 2015
Posted on April 5th, 2011

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