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
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.