• Stormtrack's forum runs on Xenforo forum software, which will be undergoing a major update the evening of Wednesday, Feb 28th. The site may be down for a period while that update takes place.

Commercial flights and upper air data

I have thought that upper atmosphere is key to weather forecasting. I have also understood that we get our upper air data from radiosonde ballons, weather ballons.

How critical is this data to the model runs ? Seems like the radiosonde data is rather sparse compared to the surface data. Is this in an issue or do we look for broad patterns in the upper atmosphere rather than details.

Anyhow why I brought this up is I was wondering what sort of data is collected from commercial flight and if data is not collected and assimilated into the model runs, perhaps it should be.

So my questions are...

Does NOAA or CDC or whoever runs the models gather data from commercial airline flights ? If so do they gather pressure altitude and humidity or anything else ?

If they do not gather this then why not ? Wouldn't the return be worthwhile ? I am not talking about much just some way to get wind speed temp pressure and altitude , longitude, latituderom a the whole flight and download that data on arrival or radio it in during flight.

have you looked at http://flightaware.com/ there are hundreds of planes in the air at all times? The long range flights seem to fly at the 200mb level while shortrange flights get up to the 500 and a bit higher. They certainly pass through a decent slice of the atmosphere. I do not know if gathering wind speed and direction is reasonable from a moving aircraft. Humidity and temp seem easy enough though.

Just curious.

--
Tom Hanlon
 
The aircraft observations are used in the assimilation cycle to generate the trial fields and error analysis in each phase of NCEP's operational forecast systems, as a complement to the standard radiosonde network but with higher spatial and temporal resolution to allow the 3dVAR assimilation technique to be effective. There is a COMET module that somewhat describes this method -----> http://meted.ucar.edu/norlat/tencom/ [click on "The Analysis must Match the Observations"] Also, the new modules regarding the WRF give some insight into this matter ------->http://meted.ucar.edu/nwp/NAMWRF/ or http://meted.ucar.edu/nwp/NAMWRF_short
 
There is a RUC version using TAMDAR. There should be some public availability in the near future, until then I would check the RUC2.

Flight coverage:
routes.jpg
 
TAMDAR RUC works great around the Great Lakes - I've been using it for about a year now and it's exclusive for my forecasting.

http://ruc.fsl.noaa.gov/pig.cgi?20km_D2+gl+./

I don't think TAMDAR data will ever be available publicly, it was when they started the test but after it went operational they took it offline (except to NWS.)
 
Isn't there another flight system (not TAMDAR) for flights near the Great Lakes? I thought we had an NWSFO forecaster on here from one of the FOs near the Great Lakes ask about our thoughts on the system... Perhaps it was on wxchase instead, but I could swear I've heard about it before...
 
No, TAMDAR is the one concentrated on the Great Lakes. ACARS is the national one, but that's concentrated on the big airports...
 
No, TAMDAR is the one concentrated on the Great Lakes. ACARS is the national one, but that's concentrated on the big airports...
[/b]

Doh, I knew that! I blame it on the late hours... Oh wait, it's only 11:30p.
 
All the information you could ever want to know is available at AirDat LLC's webpage (they are the manufacturer of the instrumentation and distributor of the data)

http://www.airdat.com/

An 05' OU grad by the name of Cyrena actually works for AirDat in Colorado where they ingest the data. When I worked at NCAR last summer TAMDAR was being integrated into its proprietary NWP products and analyzed in some experimental products. I think the project has been pretty successful and they will be expanding in nationwide in the future.
 
Great question Tom. TAMDAR is the answer... or perhaps the start of it, anyway. Others have posted a lot of great information and links. The RUC version mentioned by Scott which incorporates TAMDAR data is the RUC Dev-2. This model has shown promise in increasing the quality of short-term temp and RH forecasts (especially around 850mb).

Airdat now has 50 Mesaba airlines equipped with the sensor, and plan on deploying 80 more with another airline this fall. Airdat also has worked diligently over time to reduce temperature and RH biases of the TAMDAR sensors.

TAMDAR is revolutionary in that the data is sampled at a relatively high frequency by lower-flying jets... and of course in that RH is measured in addition to temp. I think it's fantastic.
 
I got a tremendous amount of use out of the TAMDAR data when it was available... I asked them about letting people subscribe to get it outside of NWS (it really was that good) but "it is something we'll consider in the future."

The advantage over ACARS is that they fly into many different (in most cases smaller) airports vs concentrations at hubs.

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/tamdar/
 
There is indeed a vast quantity of data gathered by commercial airlines. I have worked at the KNMI (Met. institute) in The Netherlands to make profiles of the data near airports. There is currently only wind and temperature measured, as reliable humidity sensors apparently haven't seen consensus and need to be approved by the FAA too, a long process.

As an aircraft rises, it makes a very usable vertical profile. The AMDAR (Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay) system stores a measurement (I believe it was) every 7 seconds in ASC or DES phase. When it descends, a profile over a longer horizontal distance. I wish the full data were available somewhere on an FTP server, because I still have the programs I wrote for displaying a sounding or a timeseries of parameters, e.g. storm-relative helicity, LCL, LFC (with help of the METAR surface values of humidity). Usually you would get a new profile every hour to three hours, much better than regular soundings. I have seen the boundary layer gradually warm up, or frontal inversions gradually lower at the approach of a warm front, very neat.

I'm sure AMDAR data is already ingested in models. The big models also ingest Quickscat satellite radar-derived winds over the oceans.

> How critical is this data to the model runs ? Seems like the radiosonde data is rather sparse compared to the surface data. Is this in an issue or do we > look for broad patterns in the upper atmosphere rather than details.

There has been a KNMI sensitivity test of a mesoscale model to existing and hypothetical extra soundings/profilers. The outcome, if I remember correctly, was that removing certain soundings would not affect the model results critically - this was for temperature and humidity - but adding 4 extra wind profilers would help improve the results.

Oscar
 
Back
Top