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POST TIME: 19 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Japan upgrades downpour forecasts before Tokyo 2020
AFP, Tokyo

Japan upgrades downpour
forecasts before Tokyo 2020

With an eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Japanese researchers are developing a new system to accurately forecast torrential downpours -- known in Japan as 'guerilla rainstorms' -- 30 minutes before they strike. Scientists have created a high-tech radar capable of producing a three-dimensional map of a rain cloud in 30 to 60 seconds. They say this is a significant improvement on existing systems that measure only parts of a cloud in up to five minutes.

Along with the radar, installed last year at Saitama University, just north of Tokyo, the team is also using radio waves to estimate the amount of water vapour in the air to improve their forecasts.

The waves slow down depending on the volume of vapour in the air, making for a more accurate forecast, said Katsuhiro Nakagawa, director of the Remote Sensing Laboratory at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT).

Japan is one of the most seismically active regions in the world and routinely experiences severe natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and landslides that kill dozens of people every year.