Providing advanced weather technologies to support aviation and space operations

Aviation weather provided the starting point for RAL's research work. Within the aviation application area, our current research emphases are: in–flight icing; snowfall and freezing precipitation; convective storm nowcasting and forecasting; atmospheric turbulence; numerical weather prediction; remote sensing; data assimilation; precipitation physics; ceiling and visibility; oceanic weather; verification methods; and advanced dissemination technology to users on the ground and in the air. Development of useful aviation applications requires a strong connection between our work and the needs of aviators. End–user requirements are considered at each step along the development path. Our work tends to be heavily oriented toward real–time operational systems and this focus leads to an emphasis on algorithm development, specialized graphical displays, systems engineering, operational demonstrations, and the associated scientific validations and user–oriented evaluations.

Focus Areas of Research

Jet airplane landing at twilight

Weather Expertise

Applying scientific rigor to understand and predict atmospheric processes that generate weather hazards to aviation.

Storm Front with Airplane

Operational Weather Sensitivities

Assessing weather sensitivities of flight operations through stakeholder engagement to collaboratively determine needs and requirements for enhanced weather guidance.

  • Commercial, Business, & General Aviation
  • Uncrewed Aerial Systems & Urban Air Mobility
  • Space Launch & Travel
Airplanes taking off and landing at Laguardia airport in New York

Actionable Weather Guidance

Developing weather and associated impact guidance to support operational decisions under uncertainty.

  • Airports, Heliports & Vertiports, etc.
  • En Route – Troposphere
  • Low Altitude – Atmospheric Boundary Layer
  • High Altitude – Stratosphere
Beautiful aerial cityscape view of the city of Leiden, the Netherlands, after sunset at night in the blue hour

Benefits Assessment

Science Serving Society requires in-depth evaluation of the weather impact guidance accuracy as well as the actions undertaken based on utilizing that guidance.

  • Weather Prediction Accuracy
  • Impact Prediction Accuracy
  • Decision Making Effectiveness
Cloudscape image of dark stormy clouds in clear blue sky with sunbeam

Foundational Capabilities

Our broad scientific and technical expertise builds on many enabling capabilities.

  • Data Services
  • Visualization
  • Numerical Weather Prediction
  • Algorithms
  • Turnkey Systems
  • Consulting, Training & Outreach

Benefits and Impacts

Read how we have met meteorological challenges with creative, practical solutions, and measurable benefits.

GTG is most useful for strategic route planning to avoid turbulence. This technology improves safety, airspace capacity, and efficiency
Lightning alerts are provided with a lead time of up to 30 minutes, with alerts updated every 2 to 5 minutes. Such a capability to alert of impending lightning impacts is of particular interest to… more
With support from USAID, UCAR launched an initiative to print 3D weather stations that can fill observational gaps in developing countries. A single station takes about a week to print at a cost of $… more
WSDMM provides airline and airport operations personnel critical information on the timing and effectiveness of aircraft deicing fluids. Use of the system during de–icing operations has been shown to… more
This system generates alerts for easy interpretation by pilots, controllers, traffic managers and aviation forecasters and allows aircraft to operate safely when operating at this very busy… more
This technology has been adopted by private sector firms and State DOTs saving states millions of dollars annually in anti-icing materials and staff time. A USDOT benefits study indicated that the… more
Saving money, power and time with this LES modeling method. A viable tool for microscale operational, educational, and more comprehensive research applications.
This product is uplinked to airline cockpits via electronic flight bag systems to support safe and efficient flight operations and re-routing decisions.
The JAWS allows aircraft to operate into and out of Juneau Airport in a safe and efficient manner. JAWS-like systems could be used at airports around the United States experiencing similar terrain–… more
TITAN is used for meteorological and hydrological research, forecasting related to aviation, severe weather forecasting, precipitation analysis, and conducting and evaluating weather modification… more
The Current Icing Product (CIP) provides an hourly diagnosis of the potential of encountering airframe icing conditions over the CONUS at 13-km horizontal and 500-ft vertical resolution. The Forecast… more
The HEMS tool became operational at the Aviation Weather Center in 2015. User reports showed ambulance pilots rely on the HEMS tool to make quick, life-saving decisions.
This FAA funded project is a collaborative effort NCAR, MIT-LL, NOAA-ESRL. Annual benefits to the national aviation system are estimated to be $27M.
NTDA is operational on all NEXRAD systems; this technology has helped reduce turbulence-related incidents by diagnosing the location of turbulence near storms.
Since 1996, pilots, dispatchers, the military, airlines, and airports have benefited from increased weather awareness because of the comprehensive weather information available on ADDS. Today,… more
Savings in lives and property is estimated at $1B