Mountain wave research and aviation technology

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 1:45 PM
B203 (GWCC)
Ronald B. Smith, Yale University, New Haven, CT

While other areas of meteorological research have depended on surface stations, instrumented towers, radars, balloons and satellites, mountain wave research has depended mostly on developments in aviation. Progress in wave research and aviation technology were contemporaneous and intertwined from the 1930s to the present. Joachim Kuettner's career as pilot and scientist shows many examples of this connection. In this lecture, we review how advances in aviation technology such as the variometer, inertial platform, autopilot, pressure and temperature measurement, gust probe, radar altimeter, and recently GPS, contributed to mountain wave research. Glider and aircraft strength and performance also matter. To illustrate our progress, six large mountain wave projects are briefly reviewed: Sierra Wave, WAMFLEX, ALPEX, PYREX, MAP and T-REX, four of which had Kuettner leadership. Advances in flight pattern design, momentum flux measurement and other diagnostic analyses are traced. Future possibilities are envisioned for mountain wave research.