Benefits and Impacts


Solution Areas

Aviation safety has improved dramatically since RAL’s discovery of low-level wind shear, once responsible for hundreds of airplane fatalities. Our research engineered ways to detect and convey this hazardous phenomenon, as well as develop training materials instructing pilots when to steer clear. But our aviation safety work wasn’t finished. Further research found ways to discern and address other hazards that threaten aviation safety. Diagnosing and predicting turbulence, icing, visibility, and thunderstorms give air traffic controllers and airlines valuable planning windows, as well as the decision-making tools to avoid these hazards.
Current Icing Product (CIP) and Forecast Icing Product (FIP)

In-Flight Icing Guidance

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 Icing Product (FIP) provides forecasts out to 15 hours.

Probability, expected severity, and the potential for supercooled large drop conditions (freezing rain and drizzle) are included in the output files and displays.

BoltAlert® lightning alerts can be provided with a lead time of up to 30 minutes, with alerts updated every 2 to 5 minutes.

BoltAlert®: Predicting Lightning Threats

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 airports, sites for handling or testing equipment, fuel, ammunition and missiles, outdoor venues (e.g., baseball parks, swimming pools) and special events (e.g., Olympics), construction and open-air mining sites, utilities (e.g., energy, electricity transmission), recreation (e.g., hiking, camping, boating), transportation, and many others more.

NCAR scientist Paul Kucera describes the various components of the 3D-PAWS at the Sirua Aulo Maasai High School. (©UCAR. Photo by Kristin Wegner. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)

Building Low-Cost Weather Stations with USAID

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 $200 to $400.

FastEddy®: A GPU-Accelerated Microscale Model

FastEddy®: A GPU-Accelerated Microscale Model

Saving money, power and time with this LES modeling method. A viable tool for microscale operational, educational, and more comprehensive research applications.

Identifying and Tracking Thunderstorms

TITAN is used for meteorological and hydrological research, forecasting related to aviation, severe weather forecasting, precipitation analysis and conducting and evaluating weather modification projects. This technology is provided freely through a UCAR license.

Providing Go/No-Go Weather Information to Air Ambulance Pilots

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.

Synthesizing Weather Information for Preflight Planning

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, Operational ADDS is hosted at the National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center.  This site gets an average of 10 million hits per day with major users being commercial airline and general aviation pilots

Calculating Snow and Icing before Takeoff

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 reduce end of runway deicing; a significant cost savings. United Airlines saved $1M in one snow event at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The Remote Oceanic Meteorology Information Operational (ROMIO) Demonstration

Forecasting Weather Hazards for Transoceanic Flights

This product is uplinked to airline cockpits via electronic flight bag systems to support safe and efficient flight operations and re-routing decisions.

Avoiding Turbulence

GTG is most useful for route planning, i.e., strategic avoidance of turbulence. This technology improves safety, airspace capacity and efficiency

Reducing Turbulence-Related Incidents

NTDA is operational on all NEXRAD systems; this technology has helped reduce turbulence-related incidents by diagnosing the location of turbulence near storms.

Providing Reliable Detection of Hazardous Weather and Predictions

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.

Identifying and Alerting Pilots of Turbulence at Juneau Airport

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–influenced turbulence. Pilots flying into and out of airports located in Maui, Reno, and Las Vegas, and other sites in Alaska, for example, could benefit from JAWS technology, and new prototypes would benefit from lessons learned during the Juneau alert system's development and maintenance.

Detecting Wind Shear + Turbulence at Hong Kong International Airport

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 international airport.

Microburst seen from an airplane, Las Vegas NV, July 2015. photo by Paul Hurst

Understanding and Detecting Wind Shear

Savings in lives and property is estimated at $1B

HEMS graphically displays obscuration of visibility in areas and the resulting flight categories. Photo courtesy Air Methods Go/No-Go HEMS It’s rush hour. The bumper-to-bumper traffic is creeping on a foggy, drizzly day. A horrific car accident has left a person with internal... more
Descending air curls outward and upward as it slams into the ground in a microburst near Denver's former Stapleton International Airport on July 6, 1984, during the CLAWS project. (Photo by Wendy Schreiber-Abshire, ©UCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) Tornadoes, Microbursts, and Silver Linings It takes a sharp eye to find something positive in the wreckage of the worst swarm of U.S. tornadoes on record. Ted Fujita had just such an eye, and... more
Research that reaps results April 27, 2012  •  There hasn’t been a single U.S. airline flight downed by wind shear in more than 15 years. That’s no accident. It’s the result of... more