Weather Support to Deicing Decision Making (WSDDM®)

The FAA and NCAR are working to solve the Aircraft Ground Icing Problem.

The accumulation of ice on aircraft prior to take off has long been recognized as one of the most significant safety hazards affecting the aviation industry today. As little as 0.08 mm of ice on a wing surface can increase drag and reduce airplane lift by 25%. Acutely aware of the impacts these icing hazards can have on aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began supporting ground de–icing research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)* in 1991. As a direct result of this FAA program, scientists at the Research Applications Program (the principal division of NCAR responsible for aviation weather projects) have developed a state–of–the art, integrated display system that depicts accurate, real–time nowcasts of snowfall rate, plus current temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction.

NCAR's Weather Support to De–Icing Decision Making System requires minimal training to operate, and no special meteorological knowledge to interpret. The display provides a maximum amount of weather information at a glance.

Who benefits from the WSDDM® system

Designed specifically for airport decision–makers, graphic displays are strategically located at airline station control, dispatch, and deicing facilities, airline and city snow desks, and FAA air traffic manager positions. The snowfall and weather information are used by ground personnel conducting aircraft de–icing operations, airline station control managers coordinating flights, airport managers coordinating runway plowing activities, and air traffic controllers involved in gate–hold program planning. The information allows decision makers to anticipate both the onset and termination of snow at the airport and surrounding regions.

WSDDM®'s Data Sources

The principal sources of data for the system are regional area Doppler radars (National Weather Service WSR–88Ds and FAA Terminal Doppler Weather Radars), surface weather stations, and snow gauges situated within the terminal area which accurately measure the amount of water in the snow (i.e., the melted liquid–equivalent snowfall rate).


Please direct questions/comments about this page to:

Scott Landolt

Project Scientist II