Determining the Flight Icing Threat to Aircraft with Single-Layer Cloud Parameters Derived from Operational Satellite Data

William L. Smith Jr. NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Patrick Minnis NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Cecilia Fleeger Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Douglas Spangenberg Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Rabindra Palikonda Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Louis Nguyen NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Abstract

An algorithm is developed to determine the flight icing threat to aircraft utilizing quantitative information on clouds derived from meteorological satellite data as input. Algorithm inputs include the satellite-derived cloud-top temperature, thermodynamic phase, water path, and effective droplet size. The icing-top and -base altitude boundaries are estimated from the satellite-derived cloud-top and -base altitudes using the freezing level obtained from numerical weather analyses or a lapse-rate approach. The product is available at the nominal resolution of the satellite pixel. Aircraft pilot reports (PIREPs) over the United States and southern Canada provide direct observations of icing and are used extensively in the algorithm development and validation on the basis of correlations with Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite imager data. Verification studies using PIREPs, Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting, and NASA Icing Remote Sensing System data indicate that the satellite algorithm performs reasonably well, particularly during the daytime. The algorithm is currently being run routinely using data taken from a variety of satellites across the globe and is providing useful information on icing conditions at high spatial and temporal resolutions that are unavailable from any other source.

Corresponding author address: William L. Smith Jr., NASA Langley Research Center, MS 420, Hampton, VA 23681. E-mail: william.l.smith@nasa.gov

Abstract

An algorithm is developed to determine the flight icing threat to aircraft utilizing quantitative information on clouds derived from meteorological satellite data as input. Algorithm inputs include the satellite-derived cloud-top temperature, thermodynamic phase, water path, and effective droplet size. The icing-top and -base altitude boundaries are estimated from the satellite-derived cloud-top and -base altitudes using the freezing level obtained from numerical weather analyses or a lapse-rate approach. The product is available at the nominal resolution of the satellite pixel. Aircraft pilot reports (PIREPs) over the United States and southern Canada provide direct observations of icing and are used extensively in the algorithm development and validation on the basis of correlations with Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite imager data. Verification studies using PIREPs, Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting, and NASA Icing Remote Sensing System data indicate that the satellite algorithm performs reasonably well, particularly during the daytime. The algorithm is currently being run routinely using data taken from a variety of satellites across the globe and is providing useful information on icing conditions at high spatial and temporal resolutions that are unavailable from any other source.

Corresponding author address: William L. Smith Jr., NASA Langley Research Center, MS 420, Hampton, VA 23681. E-mail: william.l.smith@nasa.gov
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