Consolidated storm prediction for aviation (CoSPA)
January 20, 2008
Research over the last 10 years primarily funded by the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) has led to very successful development of forecasts of both convective and winter storms, using heuristic and numerical models, for aviation applications. We have reached a point where there are several overlapping capabilities, and the smorgasbord of choices has become confusing. Moreover, aviation-impacting winter and summer conditions can exist simultaneously - even within a single terminal area - so a consolidated forecast must work equally well for all storm conditions. Advances in computing and communications allow incorporation of new observing systems and scientific advancements in data assimilation and modeling toward large-scale, very high resolution forecast systems that were prohibitive just 10 years ago. Other government agencies, in addition to FAA, have needs for aviation-oriented forecasts, including at least the National Weather Service, NASA, Homeland Defense, Air Force and other DoD agencies. Further efficiencies will be realized by consolidating such efforts as well. These goals are well-aligned with the goals of the Next Generation Air Transportation System and its Joint Program and Development Office. The FAA Aviation Weather Research Program is leading development of the new Consolidated Storm Prediction for Aviation (CoSPA) effort, which will combine aviation-oriented storm research in a coordinated fashion, with the goal of eventually replacing operational legacy storm diagnostic and forecast products, as appropriate, that are also geared toward aviation (see Appendix A). While many of the current storm prediction products are derived using NOAA model forecast data, especially from the hourly updated 13-km Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) model over CONUS, CoSPA products will be related to a new generation of NOAA models now assimilating radar reflectivity and lightning, including the Rapid Refresh, its proposed nest - the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR), and ensemble-based products from both. A kick-off meeting was held in June 2006 to discuss AWRP?s concepts for a consolidated aviation forecast, and to understand unmet user needs, major scientific development issues, and also to begin to explore issues associated with production and dissemination of a consolidated forecast. These findings are summarized below.