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This proposal requests funding to leverage NASA assets to demonstrate the capabilities of a GOES-based algorithm for producing 0-1 hr lightning initiation (LI) nowcasts. NASA's CloudSat, MODIS, Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) total lightning data, and National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) fields, will be used to validate and refine the LI nowcasting algorithm as it is fielded within an FAA system for several major airports along the Gulf of Mexico coast. The study falls into the 2.2.5 Weather category within the A.40 announcement. The goal is to enhance predictability of new cumulonimbus clouds, and the timing and location of first-time LI from thunderstorms. The hypothesis is that enhanced predictability of lightning via LI nowcasts will lead to more efficient terminal operations to positively impact aviation. Also, satellite-based LI nowcasts will enhance 0-1 hr convective initiation (CI) nowcasts offshore, beyond the range of NEXRAD radars. Nowcasting LI from GOES satellites is a novel, new concept that leverages the mature CI algorithm, the SATellite Convection AnalySis and Tracking (SATCAST) system, as tested and transitioned to the Consolidated Storm Prediction for Aviation (CoSPA) from 2008-2009. The goal of CoSPA is to improve Air Traffic Management planning by providing 0-8 hour automated, real-time nowcasts of aviation weather hazards to FAA decision makers. The CoSPA system is a planned component of the NextGen Initial Operational Capability in 2013. NASA assets are required to improve the LI method. Expanding LI validation to multiple LMA networks across the Southeastern U.S. (Dallas, North Alabama, Kennedy Space Center) will allow us to optimize LI nowcasts. CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar data will increase knowledge of cloud-base altitude, cloud-top height, cloud-top temperature, and cloud-top glaciation. Glaciation verification with CloudSat and MODIS, in comparison to GOES indicators (e.g., 3.9 micron reflectivity), is very important for enhancing that key component of SATCAST's LI methodology.

Project PI: Haig Iskenderian/MIT Lincoln Laboratory

MIT Lincoln Laboratory 244 Wood Street - Lexington, MA 02420 - United States of America

Phone: (791) 981-1208

Fax: (781) 981-0632



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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Mar 16, 2011


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