Fiscal Year 1995

FSL in Review

Product Development and Dissemination Branch

Review Division Page
Division Personnel Review Homepage

Richard T. Jesuroga , Chief


The Product Development and Dissemination Branch conducts research to understand how advanced weather information can be used by federal, state, and local government officials for aviation and emergency preparedness. Research activities include the development of decision support systems that integrate experimental weather information with air traffic and geographical data. The activities are carried out via two projects: the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) and the NOAA Emergency Management Weather Dissemination Project (EMWDP).

Advanced Traffic Management System

Currently, weather accounts for 73% of the air traffic delays which affect the flow of enroute traffic as well as terminal area arrivals and departures. At the same time, the air transport industry is growing and is expected to continue expanding through the end of the century. To learn how advanced meteorological information from the modernized NWS can help the FAA reduce air traffic delays, the branch works with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, the NCAR Research Applications Program, and the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Each organization contributes to the development of ATMS applications through the exchange of concepts, experience, and technology. The emphasis of the ATMS project is twofold: to understand how the Aviation Gridded Forecast System (AGFS) can benefit from strategic planning of the airspace system, and to understand how ATMS advanced weather data displays can be useful for air traffic management. The ATMS (along with its associated flight and meteorological database) provides automation support for strategic planning of the national airspace system, and is used by FAA traffic managers for strategic control of traffic flow to minimize delays and congested airspace while maximizing the overall throughput of air traffic.

FSL's achievements toward integrating advanced meteorological datasets into air traffic flight models represent a major advance in automating air traffic flow functions. For example, tropospheric wind data from the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) are used within air traffic trajectory algorithms to make one-hour predictions of aircraft locations in 15-minute time steps. These algorithms generate air traffic alerts to warn traffic managers of potential traffic congestion problems before these events actually occur. Within the FAA operational facilities, traffic managers take measures to mitigate traffic flow problems before they can significantly impact the airspace system. Thus, FAA traffic managers benefit from advanced weather technologies such as profilers, data assimilation systems through integrated products, and aircraft reports.

In addition, the ATMS includes graphical displays of radar, lightning strikes, and other types of information to be used as an overlay on the Aircraft Situation Display (ASD) (Figure 30). These displays allow air traffic managers to view real-time, high-resolution weather information integrated with flight data for strategic planning. Delays caused by weather at any major airport can potentially perturb the flow of air traffic throughput in the entire airspace system. Therefore, timely and accurate high-resolution meteorological data are essential for air traffic strategic planning and flow management.

NOAA Emergency Management Weather Dissemination Project

Events such as severe convective weather, flash floods, wildfire danger, and strong winter storms can have devastating impact on life and property. While local area advanced weather information can be extremely valuable for emergency preparedness, emergency management agencies typically lack the meteorological expertise and processing capabilities to use advanced meteorological data in real-time. Staff working on the EMWDP conduct experiments to determine how weather information from a modernized Weather Forecast Office (WFO) can be disseminated to state and local governments during the AWIPS era.

The FSL-developed Experimental Dissemination System is used to explore ways to communicate AWIPS-like weather information to emergency managers. The system will be able to use meteorological data from the WFO-Advanced workstation, an AWIPS prototype which emulates the functionality of systems used in a modernized WFO. The Dissemination System consists of a file server and remote display systems that are used experimentally in several emergency preparedness agencies. The Dissemination System uses PC-based processors, commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, and datasets that include local-area, high-resolution gridded analyses, lightning strikes, radar data, and geographical information. In addition to wind, temperature, and relative humidity information, these data are used to derive precipitation type, wind chill temperature, wildfire danger, soil moisture, cloud cover, snow cover and visibility. Combined with geographical information, these high-resolution products are displayed in simple, easy-to-use images and overlays which state and local government officials can use effectively to scrutinize local weather situations. Figure 31 shows a screen display from the Dissemination System of 5-minute radar reflectivity, lightning strikes, and a graphical time series of radar intensity for Gilpin County (Colorado).

Several Experimental Dissemination Systems have been deployed along the Colorado Front Range to test the AWIPS concepts for emergency preparedness, including the Boulder County Emergency Operations Center, the Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, and the Denver Weather Service Forecast Office.

Figure 30. The ATMS Aircraft Situation Display over the continental United States. Each dot represents one airplane.


Advanced Traffic Management System Project

Development of the Aviation Weather Network (AWN) has been completed and is undergoing real-time testing for the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS). The AWN consists of data ingest and product generation subsystems that produce real-time imagery, graphics, and textual weather information which are critical to aviation. The system is designed to be expandable and portable for a variety of aviation weather applications. FSL will transfer the AWN support to the FAA Enhanced Traffic Management System (ETMS). New weather products continue to be developed and tested for their utility in the air traffic management environment. A new high-resolution radar reflectivity mosaic has been developed for the FAA High-Altitude Route Structure (HARS) workstation at the Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center. The image, which covers the contiguous United States, uses the full 2-km spatial and 5-minute temporal resolution base reflectivity data from WSI Inc. Having this level of resolution available on the national scale will provide traffic managers with quick, easy-to-use precipitation information that should prove useful for national airspace strategic planning. A new national Radar Echo Tops product with 4-km spatial and 10-minute temporal resolution is being developed for the HARS workstation. The echo top data, to be integrated into the HARS workstation next year, should prove beneficial for traffic managers who need information about the volume or height of precipitation-impacted airspace.

Version 1.0 of the Convective Airspace Guidance (CAG) product has been developed and integrated into the ATMS Aviation Weather Network for real-time test runs. Under development for the last two years, this product identifies convective storms and provides short-term forecasts (20 minute) of future locations. The CAG product uses national radar mosaic data to identify 2-km wide convective storm segments. A cross-correlation tracker has been applied to produce a storm motion vector for each segment, thereby exhibiting the storm's forecast position. The algorithm requires further testing and verification at FSL prior to its operational validation at FAA test sites.

NOAA Emergency Management Weather Dissemination Project

EMWDP development continues as improvements are made to the Dissemination System which is being used by staff scientists and engineers. The latest weather concepts and dissemination technology continue to be incorporated into the system and tested for use in emergency preparedness agencies. Multimodal characteristics such as color displays, interactively probing for weather affecting geographical objects, and textual information accompanied with warning tones allow FSL scientists to explore various ways to present AWIPS-like weather data to emergency managers. Collaboration with operational emergency preparedness agencies in implementing the Dissemination System has led to a new version of the software, which utilizes 2-km radar precipitation information and lightning strike data on a local scale. This latest version of the Dissemination System is being tested for possible use within the WFO-Advanced deployment at the Denver WSFO next year.


Advanced Traffic Management System

NOAA Emergency Management Weather Dissemination Project

Figure 31. Screen display from the Dissemination System showing 5-minute radar reflectivity, lightning strikes, and a graph of a time series of radar intensity of Gilpin County, Colorado.

Maintained by: Wilfred von Dauster