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Dr. Gary Wick Presents Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) Results at AGU 2017

Operational Impact of Data Collected from the Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) During SHOUT

The primary scientific goal of the Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) Project was to determine the potential utility of observations from high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft systems such as the Global Hawk (GH) aircraft to improve operational forecasts of high-impact weather events or mitigate potential degradation of forecasts in the event of a future gap in satellite coverage. Hurricanes and tropical cyclones are among the most potentially destructive high-impact weather events and pose a major forecasting challenge to NOAA. Major winter storms over the Pacific Ocean, including atmospheric river events, which make landfall and bring strong winds and extreme precipitation to the West Coast and Alaska are also important to forecast accurately because of their societal impact in those parts of the country. In response, the SHOUT project supported three field campaigns with the GH aircraft and dedicated data impact studies exploring the potential for the real-time data from the aircraft to improve the forecasting of both tropical cyclones and landfalling Pacific storms.

Dropsonde observations from the GH aircraft were assimilated into the operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) and Global Forecast System (GFS) models. The results from several diverse but complementary studies consistently demonstrated significant positive forecast benefits spanning the regional and global models. Forecast skill improvements within HWRF reached up to about 9% for track and 14% for intensity. Within GFS, track skill improvements for multi-storm averages exceeded 10% and improvements for individual storms reached over 20% depending on forecast lead time. Forecasted precipitation was also improved. Impacts for Pacific winter storms were smaller but still positive. The results are highly encouraging and support the potential for operational utilization of data from a platform like the GH. This presentation summarizes the observations collected and highlights the multiple impact studies completed.

Gary A Wick – NOAA Boulder
Jason P Dunion – University of Miami/CIMAS – NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division
Jason Sippel – Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
Lidia Cucurull – NOAA Boulder
Altug Aksoy – NOAA Miami
Andrew Kren – Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere
Hui Christophersen – NOAA-AOML
Peter Black – Cherokee Nation supporting NOAA UAS Program.