A microburst prediction algorithm for the FAA Integrated Terminal Weather System
April 4, 1994
Lincoln Laboratory is developing a prototype of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) to provide improved aviation weather information in the terminal area by integrating data and products from various FAA and National Weather Service (NWS) sensors and weather information systems. The ITWS Microburst Prediction product is intended to provide and additional margin of safety for pilots in avoiding microburst wind shear hazards (Fig. 1). The product is envisioned for use by traffic managers, supervisors, controllers, and pilots (directly via datalink). Our objective is to accurately predict the onset of microburst wind shear several minutes in advance. The approach we have chosen in developing the ITWS Microburst Prediction algorithm emphasizes fundamental physical principles of thunderstorm evolution and downdraft development, incorporating heuristic and/or statistical methods as needed for refinement. Image processing and data fusion techniques are used to produce an "interest" image (Delanoy etal., 1991, 1992) that reveals developing downdrafts. We use Doppler radar data to identify regions of growing thunderstorms and probable regions of downdraft, and combine these with measures of the ambient temperature structure (height of the freezing level, lapse rate in the lower atmosphere; Wolfson 1990), total lightning flash rate, and storm motion to predict the microburst location, timing, and outflow strength. There is also a simple feedback system based on the results of the Microburst Detection algorithm that desensitizes prediction thresholds if false predictions are being reported. The following slides describe the preliminary ITWS Microburst Prediction algorithm design, and show examples of feature detector, and the algorithm output on one test case. Results from off-line testing on 17 days of data from Orlando are also presented.