What's new at the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center: Improving the quality of research products along with direct online access to the data

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 8:30 AM
B302 (GWCC)
Richard G. Henning, NOAA Aircraft Operations Center, MacDill AFB, FL; and A. B. Damiano, I. T. Sears, R. Almeida, L. Miller, and P. Flaherty

Presentation PDF (431.3 kB)

This presentation will discuss several exciting developments and plans for future mission enhancement and expansion at the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (AOC). First, the fleet of two WP-3 Orion aircraft (known endearingly as “Kermit” for N42RF and “Miss Piggy” for N43RF) that has formed the backbone of tropical weather research for more than three decades, has been expanded to include a third such plane. The arrival of N44RF in the Fall of 2009 affords the AOC greater ability to meet the ever-growing demand for collection of very high fidelity data, not only in the arena of tropical research but also in the myriad of other atmospheric experiments dealing with winter storms, air chemistry, cloud microphysics, severe local convective weather phenomena and the many other types of missions now being flown worldwide each year.

In addition to the new plane, a new onboard data collection and display system for all three P-3 aircraft (due to be installed by the 2010 hurricane season) should greatly improve the efficiency and functionality of all the data collected by dozens of sensors and viewed during flight by the AOC crew and embarked research scientists.

The cadre of onboard Flight Meteorologists (also known as Flight Directors) at the NOAA AOC, responsible for ensuring both the collection of these data sets as well as the post processing and quality control of the data for delivery to our customers, has grown from five to eight. This provides new opportunities for collaboration between these Research Meteorologists at AOC, and our customers which include scientists at the National Hurricane Center, the NOAA AOML Hurricane Research Division, NESDIS, RSMAS, ESRL/CSD, PMEL, NSSL and a host of other governmental and university laboratories.

The two Hollings Scholarship interns that worked in the AOC Science and Engineering Branch (SEB) Science office this past summer developed a web-based data query program that provides access to years of flight data (both flight level and dropsonde D files). Once fully implemented, this will provide the opportunity for anyone to access the AOC library of data online, eventually going back more than 20 years when all the records are transcribed, by selecting a particular storm of interest and / or the date and time of a mission. This includes access to all the raw and processed data along with links to obtain the same software tools used by Flight Directors to process and view these data sets.

Finally, there will be a separate poster session (see that abstract for further details) describing the planned addition of a Tail Doppler Radar (TDR) to the AOC's Gulfstream G-IV high altitude research and surveillance aircraft (N49RF nicknamed “Gonzo”). The proposed TDR mission would bring the jet closer in towards the core of hurricanes to better examine upper tropospheric clues to phenomena such as rapid intensification.