RELEASE NO. 02-036
COMBINING EARTH SCIENCE AND AVIATION
Scientists Could Provide Severe Icing Warnings to Pilots
In the future NASA scientists could enhance current warning
systems that update pilots of dangerous icing conditions and
provide this information in near real-time.
Bill Smith Jr., a scientist from NASAs Langley Research
Center in Hampton, Va., will report on the research at the American
Meteorological Society (AMS) meeting this week
in Portland, Ore.
"Our research is unique because we are able to derive
information from satellite data that indicate where icing
conditions exist near the tops of clouds," said Smith. "The
technique allows us to determine the cloud temperature and the
existence of water droplets at temperatures below freezing."
Water droplets often exist in clouds at temperatures below
freezing and pose a problem for aircraft because they freeze on
contact with an airframes surface. Depending on how much ice
accumulates on the airframe, the pilots ability to control
the aircraft may be significantly reduced.
"The technique also allows us to derive the amount of condensed
water in clouds and the water droplet sizes, two important factors
that determine the degree of icing severity," said Smith.
Smith and colleagues are working to determine cloud properties
that reveal where icing conditions exist and the potential icing
severity from operational satellite observations -- the same
imagery we see in weather forecasts on television. They are
currently validating this technique with pilot reports and aircraft
measurements of icing over the central United States using a
research aircraft from NASAs Glenn Research
Center in Cleveland.
Safety Program's Weather Accident Prevention Project is
planning to expand this research with the goal to enable an
operational icing warning system for the entire continental United
States. This technology will eventually be available to commercial
and general aviation pilots through Aviation Weather Information
systems being developed by the Aviation Safety Program.
"Weve already developed a near real-time analysis of the
satellite data, and we could provide icing diagnosis and severity
information during the daytime to pilots every 15 to 30 minutes,"
Smith will present his talk titled "Supercooled Liquid Water
Cloud Properties Derived from GOES:
Comparisons With In-Situ Aircraft Measurements" during the
Conference on Aviation, Range and Aerospace Meteorology.
For more information, visit LARC Home
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