MIGFA: the Machine Intelligent Gust Front Algorithm for NEXRAD
October 24, 2005
Over a decade ago the FAA identified a need to detect and forecast movement of wind shear hazards such as gust fronts that impact the terminal air space. The Machine Intelligent Gust Front Algorithm (MIGFA) was developed to address this need (Delanoy and Troxel, 1993). The MIGFA product provides the position, the forecasted positions, and the strength of each wind shear detection to support air traffic control safety and planning functions. MIGFA will realize a new capability for NEXRAD but was originated for use with the FAA's Airport Surveillance Radar Model 9 (ASR-9) Weather Systems Processor (WSP) as described in Troxel and Pughe (2002). Subsequently, a second version was developed for the FAA's Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) and is a component of the FAA's Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS). Most of the larger U.S. airports have ITWS installations. The ASR-9s are associated with medium-sized airports. MIGFA in NEXRAD is intended to further expand MIGFA support of air traffic control functions. There are significant algorithmic differences between the ASR-9 WSP and TDWR versions of MIGFA, primarily because of the different beam types of the two radars. Physically, the TDWR's pencil beam allows for good vertical resolution in a spatial volume of data. The ASR-9's vertical fan beam results in poor vertical resolution. Nonetheless, a key tenet in developing these two versions of MIGFA was to use the same core image processing analysis techniques (Morgan and Troxel, 2002) central to the MIGFA functionality. This same core is also central to MIGFA in NEXRAD. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory (LL) has been tasked by the FAA to transfer MIGFA technology to NEXRAD. The goal is to enable a NEXRAD MIGFA capability at airports within about 70 km of any NEXRAD. LL has been developing NEXRAD algorithms to address the FAA's weather systems' needs since the Open Radar Product Generator (ORPG) was fielded in 2001. FAA sponsored, LL-developed NEXRAD algorithms generate the following products: the Data Quality Assurance (DQA), the High Resolution VIL (HRVIL), and the High Resolution Enhanced Echo Tops (HREET) (Smalley et al., 2003). These algorithms have proven useful to non-FAA users of NEXRAD products such as the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Similarly, the NWS and DoD are developing plans to use MIGFA. MIGFA is slated to be included in the ORPG Build 9 baseline that is scheduled to be released in the Spring of 2007. In the following sections, we will discuss the salient features of MIGFA; the tuning of MIGFA to NEXRAD data; a comparison of detection performance of the TDWR and NEXRAD MIGFA versions; and some examples of MIGFA in operation.