Probabilistic scenario forecast concept
Weather hazards are a major cause of aviation delays and flight cancellations. Strategic flight planning requires weather forecasts several hours into the future, which draws heavily upon numerical weather prediction. In particular, aviation users need 0 – 12h forecasts that provide not only details about the likely weather outcome, but also information about storm structure, intensity,organization, and associated forecast uncertainty. This emphasizes the need for short–range (0 – 2 days), high–resolution (<10 km spatial resolution) ensemble weather forecasting systems. Optimization of air traffic management, especially under future scenarios of anticipated much increased demand, has to build upon automated decision support tools that integrate probabilistic weather information to estimate airspace capacity and provide guidance for managing air traffic flows under consideration of the associated prediction uncertainties.
Under NASA sponsorship, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has been developing and refining new concepts of how probabilistic weather forecasts can be tailored for aviation needs and integrated with automated decision support tools. The novel approach entails a translation of ensemble weather forecasts into probabilistic air traffic capacity impact predictions. Although the focus has been on convective storms, primarily because of their disruptive influence on air traffic flows, the same concept may be applicable to other en–route weather hazards, such as turbulence and icing, as well.