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Mathematical Modelling of Thunderstorms Forecast for Aviation Services

Project Member(s): Langtry, T.

Start year: 2014

Summary: Thunderstorms are potentially the most violent and destructive mesoscale meteorological phenomena which affect population and industry including aviation. A thunderstorm is produced by cumulonimbus cloud in which electrical discharge can be seen as lightning and heard as thunder. The aviation hazards encountered in and near thunderstorms include: severe wind shear and turbulence, severe icing, downbursts, hail, lightning, heavy rain, tornadoes, rapid air pressure fluctuations, low cloud and poor visibility. Because thunderstorms can generate many different types of hazards at the same time, their potential danger must never be underestimated. Currently, data used in forecasting, detecting, and monitoring thunderstorms include radar, satellite imagery, surface observations, upper air observations, temperature, wind profiler display, aircraft weather reports (AIREP) and aircraft meteorological data relay (AMDAR) outputs. Computer models have become an integral part of the forecast process and have led to real improvements in thunderstorm forecasting services, but require localised data. Timely and accurate forecasting of thunderstorms is critical for a large number of users in the aviation industry as they benefit greatly in terms of the economic efficiency and safe operations of aircraft. This research will be focused on developing local mathematical models for improving thunderstorm forecasting for the Sydney airport region. The mathematical modelling will use historical thunderstorm data at Sydney airport to classify storms into different synoptic scenarios and will assimilate local data for forecasting thunderstorm activity in the Sydney airport region from the sources described previously. The outcome of this research will enhance aviation services through the way that allow forecasters to anticipate not only whether or not thunderstorms will develop in an environment but also provide guidance on their movement, type, severity, and longevity.

Keywords: Numerical weather forecasting, thunderstorm prediction

FOR Codes: Weather, Meteorology, Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Air Safety