Wednesday, August 2, 2017

AWT Summer Experiment 2017 preview: TCF

The 2017 Summer Experiment at the Aviation Weather Testbed is set to begin next week! Staff at the AWT are hard at work now, putting the finishing touches on all of the planned activities. As per usual, a series of operational mock-ups will be used to simulate AWC operations and test various new and innovative concepts for aviation forecasting, while also working to refine current techniques. One topic in the latter category is the TFM Convective Forecast (TCF)

TCF was introduced in March as a replacement for the experimental CAWS that had been in place for several years. The 2017 experiment will apply feedback and lessons learned from the operational TCF during this past convective season to try increase the value added for customers, while also integrating new tools which forecasters can use to improve the accuracy of the forecast product itself.

4, 6, and 8 hour TCF forecasts on the web from August 2nd, 2017
One such new tool -or rather, a legacy tool adapted to the latest weather display system- is the INtegrated Support for Impacted air-Traffic Environments (INSITE). Originally built as a web interface, this tool provides a Flight Constraint Index value, or FCI, based on real-time and forecast convective weather as well as current and historical air traffic. Part of this is a generated 'heat map' or an overview of the greatest areas of expected constraint in various air traffic corridors. Recently the heat map portion of this tool has been adapted for both the N-AWIPS and AWIPS-2 weather display systems available to aviation forecasters.

Sample INSITE heat map from the SREF in AWIPS-2 at the Aviation Weather Testbed
Participants at the 2017 experiment will have this tool at their disposal at the mock TCF desk. They will evaluate it's utility in the generation of the TCF, and also critique the display itself and supply feedback on what might be improved for future use.

Another new tool comes from GOES-16, the latest in advanced weather satellites, which was launched in the winter of 2017. The Geostationary Lightning Mapper is an optical sensor on GOES-16 that provides total lightning detection over both land and ocean. Participants at the Experiment will have the GLM available to them in N-AWIPS and will be able to explore the utilization of it for the forecast and also for verification.

Sample gridded Group Energy Density from the GOES-16 GLM
An experimental version of the HRRR, the Time-Lagged Ensemble (TLE), will be available along with INSITE and GLM. The HRRR-TLE combines forecasts from multiple deterministic HRRR runs, initialized at the same time but valid at a different time. Participants at the mock TCF desk will have a chance to utilize and evaluate the performance of this dataset in N-AWIPS.
Sample HRRR TLE Probability of Echo Tops > 25,000 ft from
Aside from these new tools, the mock TCF desk will also be exploring the feasibility of a long range (i.e. day 2 and beyond) convective forecast. This sort of long range forecast was suggested by traffic flow operations and customers, who often have the need to plan out their staffing well in advance of an impending weather event. This concept will be automated and tested on the AWT web page using SREF data.

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