Airplane passengers can count on their flights being safer and more reliable across North America now that scientists have begun using data determined with NASA formulas to get a more accurate representation of clouds in weather forecast models.
"Clouds are an important factor to consider when planning a flight," says Patrick Minnis, a scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. whose team provided the enhanced cloud information to weather models. "They are associated with severe storms, aircraft icing, turbulence, lightning and other aviation hazards."
Minnis' team, the Langley Cloud and Radiation Group, works on developing ways to represent cloud information collected for NASA's satellite project, Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES). The team adapted those CERES procedures to apply them to data being collected from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES).
The result of the fusion is new and improved cloud information, which is now being fed into forecasts produced by NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) in near-real time – every hour.