13th Conference on Applied Climatology and the 10th Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology

Monday, 13 May 2002: 4:15 PM
Oceanic Weather: A Program to Enhance the Quality and Timeliness of Aviation Weather Information for Remote and Oceanic Regions
Tenny A. Lindholm, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and J. Burns
Poster PDF (181.1 kB)
At present, aircrews for long-range oceanic flights receive a general weather briefing before departure, including a summary of flight level winds and expected en route weather conditions. Frequently, the main products are a series of text summaries of the expected weather along the flight path, augmented by a facsimile copy of a hand drawn weather summary produced by the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, or equivalent products provided by a foreign weather service, commercial vendor, or an airline weather office. Once aloft, the aircrew can receive updated weather information in the form of text messages via the ACARS multi-purpose data link, or when in contact with an air traffic control center via HF or VHF radio communication. While the current weather products do provide valuable information for strategic planning, the information is already hours old by the time the aircraft depart and only the most general weather updates are provided during the flight. In particular, little or no information can be provided about rapidly changing weather systems that may be encountered.

Air traffic control centers and airline dispatch offices, of course, have ready access to some meteorological information, often including near real-time imagery from geostationary satellites that cover most or all of the long-range oceanic routes. Neither controllers nor dispatchers, however, are trained meteorologists, hampering their ability to provide detailed and timely updates of meteorological hazards to individual aircraft. The three legs of the operational "triad"-pilots, dispatchers, and controllers-clearly do not share the same temporal and spatial weather information when attempting to make collaborative decisions. The Oceanic Weather Product Development Team (OWPDT) is addressing this often-recognized void through applied research on oceanic weather phenomena and the development of advanced techniques to create information from sparse data sources.

The OWPDT is performing applied research toward developing diagnoses, nowcasts, and forecasts of convection, all forms of turbulence, volcanic ash dispersion, in-flight icing, and flight level winds for oceanic/remote regions where data is sparse. In parallel, the Team is investigating and implementing appropriate methods of end-user dissemination, such as ground displays and data link to airborne flight crews. The focus is on informational products, not data products, which are more readily used by non-meteorologists for decision support. This paper will describe the progress of OWPDT research and development activities, and results of user evaluations of higher resolution (time and space) informational weather products never before available to flight crews, dispatchers, and air traffic managers.

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