New data from airplanes to give more accurate weather forecasts

Travel doesn’t just broaden the mind but it can help predict the weather as well.

Data returns from airplanes in flight can help predict the weather

Data returns from airplanes in flight can help predict the weather. Image by Bernal Saborio / CC BY 2.0

Accurate wind information for the upper atmosphere is a key requirement for weather prediction. Currently, the Irish Times reports, most wind data is garnered from weather balloons, Doppler radars, wind profilers and satellites.

Now though, a new source of wind data from aircraft flight levels, is aiding meteorologists to make more accurate weather forecasts. And with European regulations making it compulsory for planes to carry the Mode-S EHS device, it means that there is enhanced surveillance.

Transponders send information every four seconds including air and ground speed. From this data authorities can calculate wind strength and with further adjustments, they can then produce wind estimates.

A senior scientist at the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute found that these observations are beneficial for short-range wind forecasts.

This has the spin-off of helping air-traffic management and leads to greater fuel efficiency. The data can also be used to calculate temperatures.

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