SESAR boosts winter forecasting for de-icing

SESAR has helped develop a winter weather forecasting tool to provide short-term forecasts for de-icing operations.

The tool was validated during a series of exercises, which took place in Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm airports during late 2015 and early 2016.

The validation explored the added value of refined weather forecast information, compared to relying on the existing standard ICAO weather products such as aerodrome routine meteorological report (METAR) and aerodrome forecast (TAF).

The focus of the exercises was to analyse the impact of a planning phase for de-icing operations on the predictability of the air transit view (ATV) through the introduction of a de-icing management tool (DIMT). With the involvement of airport operations data base (AODB), the DIMT subscribes to flight information and produces information in the form of time stamps for use by coordinators, managing the de-icing of aircraft.

When MET information is combined with the known properties of the de-icing fluids used at Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo airports, operators can make more effective decisions related to their operations.

The initiative was led by EUMETNET EIG in collaboration with the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), which together developed a prototype capable of generating relevant weather information and identifying critical weather parameters and their thresholds for de-icing operations.

EIG EUMETNET is a grouping of 31 European National Meteorological Services that provides a framework to organise co-operative programmes between its Members in the various fields of basic meteorological activities. These activities include observing systems, data processing, basic forecasting products, research and development and training.

The MET prototype was based on a combination of:

  • observed precipitation data from weather radar 
  • forecast trajectory and movement of precipitation using high resolution local numerical weather prediction (NWP) model, including its development or dissipation over the next 0-3 hours 
  • observed temperature and humidity as reported in the local METAR.  

The validation exercise was originally due to take place in 2014/15 however it was a very warm winter and de-icing was rarely needed during the planned exercise. Instead, the exercise was repeated again in winter 2015/16, during a period which proved very conducive to using the new tool in an operational environment. The demonstration ran successfully over several months to gain statistically significant samples, due to the colder weather that season.

The validation results clearly showed the prototype forecasts outperformed existing TAF forecasts in estimating the de-icing conditions for 3 hours ahead. Indeed the temporal resolution demonstrated 15 minute time steps for the new product which was far more effective, providing a more tailored MET solution. The results were further split to analyse performance under differing weather regimes and separate case studies were made for the days of the exercise. The benefits of the new system were most visible in snow shower situations, when the new system was able to forecast up to 75 minutes ahead, while TAF product alone was comparatively ineffective tool to guide de-icing management activities.

FMI is part of a new SESAR exploratory research project called “Probabilistic Nowcasting of Winter Weather at Airports” (PNOWWA). This new endeavour aims to expand the current work to incorporate probabilistic winter weather information to de-icing applications in the airport environment.


Posted in Airports, Meteorology, News, SESAR

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