Campaign Begins In Pacific
Observations May Lead
To Weather-Related Aviation Safety Products
By JULIA COLE
NASA scientists recently used research aircraft, satellites and an observatory
on a Hawaiian volcano to study the atmosphere for better weather predictions
and weather-related aviation safety products.
The 2003 Pacific THORPEX Observing Systems Test (TOST) is the first in
a series of ocean observation campaigns to support THORPEX, a Global Atmospheric
Research Program. Scientists conducted TOST from the Hawaii International
Airport, Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu and the Mauna Loa Observatory
on the big island of Hawaii.
Langley Research Center scientists provided weather forecasting, data
processing and instrument support during TOST.
Weather measurements over the Pacific Ocean, like the ones in this
experiment, are critical for improving the forecast accuracy of high-impact
storms that take such a heavy toll on the West Coast of the U.S.,
said John Murray, the TOST coordinator from Langley. We are also
using this data to improve our ability to provide accurate aviation weather
information across vast oceanic areas where satellites are the sole source
of atmospheric information.
The 2003 Pacific TOST began in February and ended on March 12.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also conducted
the Winter Storms Reconnaissance Program during the same observation period.
NOAAs G-IV storm chaser aircraft flew beneath the ER-2 high-altitude
airplane from Dryden Flight Research Center during the experiment. Instruments
on the aircraft measured the clouds and many other atmospheric properties
such as temperature and humidity. A GroundWinds lidar (laser radar) at
the observatory on the active volcano of Mauna Loa measured winds north
of the islands within a range of about 12 miles and up to about nine miles
Scientists will use TOST measurements to validate coincident observations
with the Earth Observing Systems Terra and Aqua satellites and the
Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat). The spacecraft instruments
study the planets energy balance, global water cycle and ice masses
for a better understanding of the Earth system.
NASAs Advanced Satellite Aviation-weather Products (ASAP) project,
managed by Langley, will use TOST measurements to enhance aviation weather
products developed by the Federal Aviation Administrations Aviation
Weather Research Program.
ASAP scientists also will use the observations to demonstrate weather-related
aviation safety applications that will incorporate measurements taken
by the Geosynchronous Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (GIFTS)
Indian Ocean METOC Imager (IOMI) satellite, scheduled to launch in 2006.
The week before TOST, the ER-2 aircraft conducted experiments at Dryden
that simulated observations similar to future ones from the GIFTS-IOMI
The Navys Twin Otter aircraft also measured wind profiles
using the GIFTS wind measurement concept during the ER-2 flights at Dryden,
said Bill Smith Sr., the GIFTS-IOMI principal investigator and chief scientist
in Atmospheric Sciences. This experiment was a very important step
in our validation activities for the GIFTS instrument.
The THORPEX field campaign, also in 2006, will be the primary over-water
validation experiment for the GIFTS-IOMI satellite.
Julia Cole works
for SAIC in support of Langleys Atmospheric Sciences Competency.
NASA scientists used a lidar observatory in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, during
the 2003 Pacific THORPEX Observing Systems Test (TOST), the first in a
series of ocean observation campaigns to support THORPEX, a Global Atmospheric
courtesy of Michigan Aerospace Corp.