346 SkyCast: A Wind and Thermodynamic Profiling System (WTPS) for Aviation Applications

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Bill Conway, Weather Decision Support Systems, International, Norman, OK; and D. Patton, S. A. McLaughlin, R. Ware, K. A. Reed, T. Wilfong, L. Blanchette, and E. M. Lau

Weather Decision Support Systems, International (WDSS) of Norman, Oklahoma and Radiometrics Corporation (RDX) of Boulder, Colorado, have developed SkyCast®- an integrated wind and thermodynamic profiling system (WTPS) that includes all needed instrumentation and advanced data analysis & display applications. SkyCast utilizes advanced atmospheric remote sensing technologies to provide continuous boundary layer wind, temperature, vapor and liquid profiles. Included with the WTPS is VizAir - a software suite developed specifically for SkyCast that provides cutting-edge nowcasting and visualization tools for airport installations. SkyCastsystems can be configured for a wide variety of applications including air quality monitoring, emergency management support, mesonet monitoring solutions and space launch support.

SkyCast integrates remotely sensed observations from multiple instruments including a Radiometrics Boundary Layer Radar Wind Profiler (RWP), Radiometrics MP-3000A Microwave Profiling Radiometer (MPR), Radiometrics Acoustic Wind Profiler (AWP or “sodar”), and a surface weather observing system to provide constant monitoring of winds and theromodynamics in the boundary layer including:

  • Temperature, humidity, and liquid water content
  • Atmospheric stability and convective forecast indices
  • Temperature inversions
  • Wind profiles and wind shear characteristics
  • Evolution of the low-level jet
  • Development and dissipation of fog events
  • Presence of icing conditions

SkyCast provides the ability to constantly monitor low-level wind field characteristics along with any associated wind shear, low-level jets, headwinds, tailwinds, and crosswinds. These parameters are integral components of pilot awareness and aircraft performance. Wind retrievals are processed through proprietary wind shear algorithms which derive user-defined magnitude and depth characteristics. The parameters can then be utilized by decision makers including controllers and pilots to make informed decisions regarding takeoff and landing operations in an effort to be aware of the potential for changes in aircraft performance resulting from wind shear conditions. Wind shear alerts based on user definable shear thresholds and depth. Shear alerts can be defined based on across or along runway values. By default wind shear calculations and alerts are based on FAA or ICAO standards. All wind barb profiles and shear calculations are updated every 5 mins.

SkyCast thermodynamic retrievals provide the ability to monitor low-level temperature inversions (LLTI) or locations where temperature increases with height, effectively changing the atmospheric density profile. Upon take-off, fully loaded aircraft encountering a LLTI will notice changes in performance including a decrease in climb rate for the same thrust rate when compared to a take-off where a LLTI is not present. LLTI strength and depth characteristics provided by SkyCast create awareness of the possibility of occurrence of these performance changes allowing the end-user to mitigate the potential for inadvertent corrections due to lower than expected climb rates. In addition, quantitative data from the radiometer can be utilized in conjunction with ambient air temperature and density altitude calculations to support establishment of climb-out protocols, and provide potential fuel savings.

SkyCast water vapor and liquid water measurements provide information on the amount and depth of liquid and vapor present in the PBL. This information combined with temperature, dewpoint, and relative humidity characteristics forms the basis for fog detection and characterization, a major contributor to airport delays. Studies using WTPS instrumentation have demonstrated that conditions associated with the evolution of fog events are dependent on the type of fog as well as mesoscale and geographic features specific to the location.

SkyCast provides measurements of integrated vapor and integrated liquid throughout the atmosphere. These measurements when combined with the retrieved temperature profiles allow for the monitoring of potentially hazardous phenomena including frost, freezing rain potential, and PBL icing potential. Similar to the system's ability to provide information for fog forecasting as described above, the retrievals can also be utilized to improve forecasts of frost characteristics including intensity. This information can provide end-users with the necessary knowledge to determine with high confidence whether deicing will be required and may also provide timing information including onset and dissipation.

SkyCast provides real-time monitoring of atmospheric thermodynamic and wind conditions. This information can be utilized to derive stability parameters along with traditional sounding forecast indices, which allow for the monitoring of the potential for severe weather including convective storms. By tracking the dynamic conditions in real-time, forecasters are provided with more information with respect to the potential storm severity and type characteristics as well as timing of convective initiation. In general, radiosondes are launched from select sites globally two times per day at 00 UT and 12 UT to monitor atmospheric conditions. Unfortunately, very few PBL observations exist between the two launch times when much of the dynamic weather occurs. SkyCast provides intermediate soundings via remotely sensed observations at a temporal resolution of approximately 6 minutes, giving meteorologists a powerful nowcasting tool for use in the monitoring of convective initiation and the associated characteristics.

This presentation will discuss SkyCast applications at airport locations.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner