Real-Time Jetstream Tracking: National Benefit from an ST Radar Network for Measuring Atmospheric Motions

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Attention is directed to a wind measurement system that could be of significant cost benefit to the airline industry and the nation. A network of Stratosphere-Troposphere (ST) radars can provide continuous wind measurements through the troposphere and lower stratosphere with resolutions of 0.5 to 1.0 km in altitude and a fraction of an hour in time.

United States air carriers consume in excess of 37 billion liters of fuel per year. Existing estimates by other workers indicate 1–3% savings in fuel costs are possible, given accurate and timely knowledge of the location of the atmospheric jet stream, which would allow for optimal use of this variable tail wind (or avoidance of unnecessary head winds). Current and readily available technology can provide an ST radar network with fine spatial resolution capable of continuous real-time jetstream monitoring across the continental United States. The cost of such a network should be recovered in less than one year, if the potential savings indicated were realized. Thus establishment of an ST radar network deserves serious consideration, and it is important to obtain firmer fuel cost savings figures to determine cost effectiveness. The system also would serve other practical and basic research needs in the atmospheric sciences.

1 Air Force Geophysics Laboratory, Hanscom AFB, Mass. 01731.

2 Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C. 20591.

Attention is directed to a wind measurement system that could be of significant cost benefit to the airline industry and the nation. A network of Stratosphere-Troposphere (ST) radars can provide continuous wind measurements through the troposphere and lower stratosphere with resolutions of 0.5 to 1.0 km in altitude and a fraction of an hour in time.

United States air carriers consume in excess of 37 billion liters of fuel per year. Existing estimates by other workers indicate 1–3% savings in fuel costs are possible, given accurate and timely knowledge of the location of the atmospheric jet stream, which would allow for optimal use of this variable tail wind (or avoidance of unnecessary head winds). Current and readily available technology can provide an ST radar network with fine spatial resolution capable of continuous real-time jetstream monitoring across the continental United States. The cost of such a network should be recovered in less than one year, if the potential savings indicated were realized. Thus establishment of an ST radar network deserves serious consideration, and it is important to obtain firmer fuel cost savings figures to determine cost effectiveness. The system also would serve other practical and basic research needs in the atmospheric sciences.

1 Air Force Geophysics Laboratory, Hanscom AFB, Mass. 01731.

2 Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C. 20591.

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