Enhanced Ceiling and Visibility Information for Aviation in Alaska
Jenny Colavito, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Washington, DC
Rita Roberts, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
Michael Matthews, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Lincoln Laboratory
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Abstract
Poor weather conditions, to include restricted visibility and low clouds (hereafter known as C&V) are a critical safety concern for aviators in Alaska.  The goal of this FAA sponsored research is to develop a rapidly updating C&V analysis product that will help pilots avoid dangerous areas of low visibility between observation stations.  The product, called CVA-AK, is being developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).  Version 1 is currently being evaluated by the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit (AAWU) and uses a RAP 2 hour forecast model background blended with current METAR observations.  Version 2 will use satellite images to identify cloudy/clear regions, especially in areas without METAR observations, and will be used to reduce over-prediction of ceiling heights by the RAP model.  Version 3 will incorporate visibility estimates derived from weather camera images.  As part of CVA-AK development, the FAA has sponsored Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Labs (MIT/LL) to adapt their legacy weather camera visibility estimation software to the unique challenges in Alaska.  This presentation will highlight CVA-AK development, give examples of output, provide results and feedback from demonstrations and evaluations, and discuss future plans.