USAF Use of an Editable Weather System for Decision Support Services

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Jeffrey A. Fries, United States Air Force Weather Agency, Offutt Air Force Base, NE

The U.S. Air Force Weather Agency, through the 1st Weather Group, is developing a revolutionary means of forecasting and characterizing the environment by leveraging a new editable weather system and placing forecast information in digital form in an entity called the Operational Data Layer (ODL). The ODL combines the objective, precise, and consistent advantages of grid summation algorithms with human forecaster experience to translate forecaster-in-the-loop (FITL) products into GrIB format. For example, the current ODL thunderstorm grid summation algorithm provides 30-nautical mile resolution in the mid-latitude regions compared to the effective resolution of 60-90 nautical miles provided by “hand-drawn” forecasts. Forecast accuracy and consistency of “hand drawn” products emerge from a legacy production concept primarily intended to coordinate forecast activities at base weather stations with further application in flight weather briefing presentations based on subjective interpretation by flight weather briefers. Whereas ODL thunderstorm data is designed from the outset to incorporate the best possible science in a data format designed for direct ingested into command and control systems, mission planning systems, or visualized and employed by military decision makers. This objective forecast method provides a higher degree of consistency, especially when coupled with forecasters in the loop to refine for modeling errors and biases that can best be modified by direct forecaster interaction with the data. The goal of the ODL is to ensure decision makers have the most accurate information as created or manipulated by the forecaster. Since the speed of military decision cycles parallels the speed of the information network, it is imperative that military weather information is timely, accurate, relevant and consistent. Future advances in data handling and computer processing promises to deliver higher resolution forecasts that can be visualized in viewers and applications in addition to machine-to-machine ingest into military command and control systems or the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System.