Convection diagnosis and nowcasting system for transoceanic aircraft

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Cathy Kessinger, NCAR, Boulder, Colorado; and H. Cai, N. Rehak, D. Megenhardt, M. Steiner, M. Donovan, E. R. Williams, R. Bankert, and J. Hawkins

Handout (136.1 kB)

Recent oceanic aviation accidents/incidents (Air France Flight 447, Yemen Airways, and Continental Flight 128) underscore the need for a strategic tool depicting hazardous convection to advance airline safety assurance. The Oceanic Convection Diagnosis and Nowcasting system is a potential component of such a tool and has been developed for pilots and dispatchers of transoceanic flights where aircraft fly at enroute altitudes. Using satellite remote sensing in conjunction with global numerical weather prediction, the system identifies deep convective clouds over remote, oceanic regions and produces short-term nowcasts of their future locations. These oceanic convection products are geared toward fulfillment of the Federal Aviation Administration's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) goal for a global convection product.

The Oceanic Convection Diagnosis and Nowcasting system uses geostationary satellite-based methodologies to identify convection through a data fusion of three algorithms (cloud top heights, cloud classification, and convective diagnosis). Once identified, the convection is extrapolated into the future 1-6 hours. Independent validation is accomplished with data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. Moreover, we hope to resurrect the capability of uplinking convective weather information into the cockpit of United Airlines' oceanic flights. The presentation will discuss the methodologies used to identify and nowcast oceanic convection together with validation results and the status of the uplink capability.