Total lightning as an indication of Convectively Induced Turbulence potential in and around thunderstorms

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 1:45 PM
Georgia Ballroom 3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Ryan Hunter Rogers, Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and L. D. Carey, M. Bateman, G. T. Stano, S. A. Monette, W. F. Feltz, K. Bedka, and C. Fleeger
Manuscript (814.4 kB)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that thunderstorm related flight delays are responsible for the loss of approximately 2 billion dollars annually to the commercial aviation industry. Along with icing and lightning hazards, turbulence contributes to the substantial risk to aviation from thunderstorms. In addition to monetary losses resulting from delays or rerouting, there is also a significant risk to passenger safety from unexpected turbulence events. Data from Lightning Mapping Arrays (LMA) will be compared to turbulence metrics to diagnose and potentially forecast areas of Convectively Induced Turbulence (CIT). This exploratory study is in support of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series-R risk reduction research (GOES-R R3). The FAA recommends that aircraft avoid thunderstorms by at least 20 nautical miles (37 km) in the horizontal and by 1000 ft for every 10 knots (5 m/s) of cloud top wind speed in the vertical. Maintaining this safety buffer is not always practical or possible during rapidly changing convective events and in particularly busy air traffic corridors. In cases where this buffer is not maintained the chance of an aircraft experiencing turbulence is increased. The mere presence of lightning in a convective cell gives some indication as to its vertical extent and potential to generate turbulence. Data from LMA will serve as a proxy for the GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) instrument's total lightning (in-cloud and cloud-to-ground) capability. In addition to using LMA data at its native resolution, both proxy GLM (GOES-R Algorithm Working Group) and pseudo GLM (NASA SPoRT) products will be examined to investigate the impact of the roughly 8x8 km2 GLM resolution on lightning/turbulence relationships. Total lightning data will be combined with (aircraft independent) National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Eddy Dissipation Rate (EDR) data to examine any relationships between lightning along the aircraft route and turbulence reports. Flash initiation location as well as flash extent information will be utilized from native LMA, pseudo GLM, and proxy GLM data sets. In cases where a lightning flash is initiated or extends into the 20 nm horizontal buffer zone, the flash rate at current and subsequent locations along the flight path will be compared to EDR turbulence magnitude for value in quantifying hazards to aircraft.