From nowcasting to forecasting: Bridging the gap in short-range aviation weather forecasting

From nowcasting to forecasting: Bridging the gap in short-range aviation weather forecasting
Weather & Environment

At Vaisala, taking every measure to improve the planet is in our DNA. This includes enhancing aviation sustainability, safety and efficiency. A critical challenge in aviation lies in short-range weather forecasting — the crucial window between nowcasting (ultra-short-range forecasting) and traditional forecasting. We tackle this challenge by providing instruments and intelligence designed to bridge this critical gap to provide seamless weather insights, 24/7.

Informed decisions during critical flight phases

The approach, landing, takeoff and departure are the most critical phases of a flight with the highest risk of delays or accidents. Our high-resolution weather radars deliver real-time data on windshear and turbulence during takeoff and landing so pilots and air traffic controllers can make informed decisions for optimal safety. Similarly, continuous wind data from our highly advanced wind lidar improves short-term forecasts throughout all flight phases.

Advanced weather observation technologies for short-term forecasting

Here’s a look at how Vaisala technology can help improve safety and efficiency at the airport and beyond.

High-resolution observations

  • Weather radars using software such as IRIS Focus software, which enables nowcasting to predict storm movement and potential flight disruptions
  • Wind lidars like WindCube® Scan, providing continuous wind data for more accurate short-range forecasts Humidity lidars/profilers (more on that below) to anticipate storm development and movement

Instruments and intelligence in action

  • Solid-state transmitter weather radars (WRS300 & WRS400): Coupled with nowcasting software like IRIS Focus to provide real-time insights into storm development and movement, allowing proactive adjustments to flight plans within the critical short-range window
  • Scanning lidar (WindCube Scan): Continuous wind data, essential for improved short-range wind forecasts and critical decision-making during all flight phases
  • Humidity profiler (DIAL Atmospheric Profiler DA10): Real-time humidity data that is readily assimilated into Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models and used for model validation, leading to more precise short-range forecasts

Re-thinking the future of airport weather forecasts

The future of sustainability, safety and efficiency in aviation hinges on advanced weather awareness for Air Traffic Management (ATM). We envision a system that transforms data into actionable insights for approach control supervisors.

A Comprehensive View: Within the APP/TMA, observations, forecasts, and clear visualizations will be combined to create a user-friendly format, giving a complete picture of current and upcoming weather conditions.

Real-Time Adjustments: Severe weather alerts, displayed alongside flight data, will allow for immediate decision-making. Supervisors can anticipate and adjust plans in real-time, potentially including runway changes.

Streamlined User Interface: A redesigned UI will specifically cater to ATM professionals, transforming data into a readily usable format.

Highly Detailed Forecasts: Moving beyond current TAF/TREND limitations, future airport forecasts will be far more granular. Imagine hourly breakdowns for the next 48 hours, with intuitive color coding using a "traffic light" system. Yellow will indicate near-threshold weather, while red signifies exceeding threshold conditions.

An enhanced weather awareness system empowers approach control to make informed decisions, ensuring the safety and efficiency of air traffic in the years to come.

Whilst weather has an increasing impact on aviation delays and accidents — accounting for more than 70% of occurrences — the information gap between nowcasting and traditional forecasting makes it hard to make immediate decisions. To address this issue, Vaisala offers a range of solutions for short-term forecasting that provide up-to-date and useful information.

Vaisala's solutions provide aviation stakeholders with timely, practical information, effectively connecting the gap between immediate weather updates and future predictions. This empowers a preemptive strategy towards weather obstacles, promoting a more secure and streamlined aviation sector.

Learn more about how we can help you keep airport operations running smoothly no matter what kind of weather or conditions you encounter:

Vaisala Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS)

Aviation weather and runway management solutions

Complete line-up of aviation weather and runway management solutions ensuring safe and efficient airport operations in all conditions.