841 Offshore Radar-like Analyses and Forecasts for Aviation

Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Christopher J. Mattioli, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA; and M. S. Veillette, H. Iskenderian, E. P. Hassey, and P. M. Lamey

Convective weather can have a large and adverse effect on aviation. Air traffic controllers require an accurate radar depiction of the convective storm location and intensity so they may safely route aircraft around convective hazards. Air traffic managers, who are concerned with longer-term planning, require accurate radar-forward forecasts of storm location and intensity so that they may account for the future loss of airspace due to weather. Within the CONUS, real-time radar-based convective weather information is provided to air traffic controllers through radar display systems, such as the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP). Air traffic managers obtain radar analyses and radar-forward forecasts from the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) aviation nowcasting system and the CoSPA aviation forecast system. All three systems require land-based NEXRAD radar coverage, and as such, air traffic controllers and managers do not have access to any system that provides accurate and timely radar-like precipitation estimates in offshore regions beyond radar range.

In this work, machine learning and image processing methods are used to create radarlike precipitation intensity and echo top heights beyond the range of weather radar. The technology, called the Offshore Precipitation Capability (OPC), combines global lightning data with existing radar mosaics, five GOES satellite channels, and several fields from NOAA's Rapid Refresh (RAP) 13 km numerical weather prediction model to create radar-like precipitation and echo top fields similar to those provided by FAA WARP and CIWS weather systems. NEXRAD radar data available offshore and over ocean (e.g. Puerto Rico) is used to train the machine learning model. OPC output is blended with existing NEXRAD radar mosaics to create a seamless weather radar-like analysis of aviation impacting weather for offshore air traffic control. The seamless radar-like offshore analysis from OPC is extrapolated and combined with the RAP numerical model forecast to create 0-8 hour radar-forward forecasts for offshore air traffic management. Outputs of the analysis and forecast are validated using land radars and satellite precipitation measurements provided by the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission. These capabilities will directly benefit the FAA by providing improved situational awareness and forecasts for offshore air traffic control and management.

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