13.5 Spreading Wings in Alaska: Using Next Generation Satellite Imagery to Support Aviation Forecasting in the Last Frontier

Thursday, 26 January 2017: 2:30 PM
Conference Center: Skagit 2 (Washington State Convention Center )
Amanda M. Terborg, CIMSS/Univ. of Wisconsin, Kansas City, MO; and E. Stevens

In the state of Alaska roughly 8000 people, or 1% of the entire population, are pilots, and the importance of aviation ranges from Alaska’s smallest villages to its largest cities. Remote villages with no road access rely on aviation to deliver vital supplies and as a basic mode of transportation.  Large cargo shipments on their trans-Pacific routes between Asia and North America stop in Anchorage to rest and refuel, and military bases utilize the airspace throughout the State for various exercises.   Alaska is a challenging place to fly:  the areas are vast, the topographically is complex, and there are very few in-situ weather observations.   Local terrain-driven microclimates can produce significant changes in weather over very short spans of space and time, with the result that accurate aviation forecasting is challenging.

Satellites have become one of the most relied upon observation platforms in Alaska.  Several next-generation polar and geostationary satellites will be launched in the coming years and offer potential benefits to aviation forecasting.  There has been a strong push for collaboration in the Alaska aviation forecasting community to realize the maximum benefit from these new instruments. The following poster/presentation provides a summary of this push and the resulting collaboration between entities including the Alaskan Aviation Weather Unit, the Anchorage Center Weather Service Unit, and the US Air Force’s 17th Operational Weather Squadron.

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