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Updated version of a convective initiation nowcasting algorithm

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Updated version of a convective initiation nowcasting algorithm
Washington State Convention Center
John R. Walker, University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and W. M. MacKenzie Jr. and J. R. Mecikalski

A particularly challenging problem today, particularly for the aviation industry, is our current lack of ability to accurately forecast the location and time of convective initiation (CI) events. Such events are one of the primary reasons for costly delays to airlines, and, subsequently for the general public who frequent those airlines. Current storm forecast products used in operations today are very limited, thus hindering the effectiveness of most aviation weather decision support systems.

However, one recent advance in this area was the development of the SATellite Convection AnalysiS and Tracking (SATCAST) system by researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (UW-CIMSS). This original version of SATCAST utilized imager data from various channels on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) to infer various characteristics about early stage convection, such as cloud-top height, cloud-top glaciation, and updraft strength. Via a single pixel-based tracking methodology, this system was able to monitor convective cloud growth through time, and determine which cloud elements might be associated with the production of heavy rainfall within the next 1-2 hours (Mecikalski and Bedka, 2006).

Presented here is an updated variation of SATCAST, known as SATCAST Version 2 (SATCAST_v2). The main enhancement to this version is a change to an “object-tracking” based methodology, which provides superior tracking capabilities of interesting convective cloud “objects”, and therefore greatly improves the ability to monitor the characteristics of convection in its early stages. SATCAST_v2 was unveiled in the spring of 2010 and tested at the GOES-R Proving Ground at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK. Discussion of the overall SATCAST_v2 methodology and results from its application will be presented.