32nd Conference on Broadcast Meteorology/31st Conference on Radar Meteorology/Fifth Conference on Coastal Atmospheric and Oceanic Prediction and Processes

Thursday, 7 August 2003: 4:30 PM
Verification of an airborne radar turbulence detection algorithm
Larry B. Cornman, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and G. Meymaris, B. Chorbajian, and J. K. Williams
Encounters with convective turbulence continue to be a key factor in commercial transport accidents. Providing accurate short-term forecasts of these turbulence events is not yet a reality; hence, the ability to detect and warn pilots of an impending encounter is important. Many commercial transport aircraft are currently outfitted with a predictive windshear radar system. Therefore, as part of NASA's Aviation Safety Program, the development of real-time detection algorithms that can provide timely and accurate warnings of convective turbulence in low reflectivity situations (<30 dBZ) has been given a high priority. In the near-term, only software modifications to the existing radar systems will be implemented and NASA is working with the radar manufacturers, FAA and airlines to expedite the certification of this technology.

As part of the these R&D activities, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has developed new turbulence detection and data quality control algorithms for use with airborne radars. A brief description of these algorithms is presented, along with verification results. A thorough verification exercise was performed in 2001 using NASA's 757 research aircraft. Data from forty moderate and greater convective turbulence encounters have been analyzed. A comparison of the radar-based turbulence algorithm and in situ aircraft data shows that the current algorithm can provide reliable detection well in front of the aircraft, even at very low reflectivities.

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