Satellite Data Applications for Nowcasting of Convective Initiation

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 1:45 PM
B314 (GWCC)
Haig Iskenderian, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA; and J. R. Mecikalski, K. M. Bedka, C. Ivaldi, J. Sieglaff, W. Feltz, M. M. Wolfson, and W. M. MacKenzie Jr.

Most of the air traffic delay that is so costly to the airlines and to the flying public is incurred during severe convective weather, but most aviation weather decision support systems provide only past or current storm locations. High-quality forecasts of convection are essential to efficient operation of the National Airspace System, but the existing operational storm forecast products are extremely limited. In order to address the short-term needs of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the long-term goals of the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), MIT Lincoln Laboratory, NCAR Research Applications Laboratory and NOAA ESRL Global Systems Division (GSD) are collaborating on developing a forecast system under funding from the FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP). This forecast system, called the Advanced Storm Prediction for Aviation (ASPA), will provide detailed forecasts for FAA decision managers out to 8 hours.

A particularly challenging problem for convective weather forecasting is the ability to forecast when and where convection will first form. Imager data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), with a spatial resolution of 1 to 8 km depending on spectral band, can provide invaluable information about convection in its early stages. Under the NASA Advanced Satellite Aviation weather Products (ASAP) program, the SATellite Convection Analysis and Tracking (SATCAST) system has been developed by researchers at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) to identify cloud pixels that are favored for convective initiation. The NASA ASAP and NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) programs have funded a collaboration among MIT Lincoln Laboratory, UAH, and CIMSS to transfer SATCAST to ASPA and to test the SATCAST system in real-time. This work will discuss the results of an effort to use SATCAST in ASPA to improve forecasts of convective initiation.