Thursday, 15 January 2004: 9:15 AM
Use of the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) for Space Shuttle weather forecasts at the NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group
The NWS Spaceflight Meteorology has implemented the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) model to provide a mesoscale forecast model for Space Shuttle forecasts. The ARPS Data Analysis System (ADAS) provides the ability to ingest the wide variety of mesoscale observational data available around the Space Shuttle launch and landing sites including WSR-88D Level 2 data, wind profilers, and local mesoscale weather networks to provide a gridded 3-dimensional analysis of the atmosphere used to initialize the model. The ADAS analysis is run 4 times per hour to provide grids for both the forecaster's use in diagnosing the state of the atmosphere and verification of the model forecast. The prognostic component is run every 3 hours to provide a 12-hour forecast. Forecast grids are output every 15 minutes to provide detailed data to support space launch and landing decisions.
Space Shuttle landing forecasts require accurate 30 minute to 6 hour forecasts of winds, cloud properties including ceiling and tops, and precipitation. The Kennedy Space Center launch and landing site is a coastal environment where forecasting the formation of the sea breeze and associated convection is a particular challenge. The landing sites at Edwards Air Force Base (California) and the White Sand Space Harbor (New Mexico) are located in the desert southwest and the surrounding mountains play a significant impact on the wind flow and cloud formation. The utility of the ARPS forecasts for space shuttle support will be discussed, along with preliminary objective and subjective verification.