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The Identification and Verification of Hazardous Convective Cells Over Oceans Using Visible and Infrared Satellite Observations
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
  • Michael F. Donovan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Earle R. Williams, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Cathy Kessinger, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Gary Blackburn, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Paul H. Herzegh, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Richard L. Bankert, Naval Research Laboratory
  • Steve Miller, Naval Research Laboratory
  • Frederick R. Mosher, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Submitting Campus
Daytona Beach
Applied Aviation Sciences
Document Type
Publication/Presentation Date

Three algorithms based on geostationary visible and infrared (IR) observations are used to identify convective cells that do (or may) present a hazard to aviation over the oceans. The performance of these algorithms in detecting potentially hazardous cells is determined through verification with Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite observations of lightning and radar reflectivity, which provide internal information about the convective cells. The probability of detection of hazardous cells using the satellite algorithms can exceed 90% when lightning is used as a criterion for hazard, but the false-alarm ratio with all three algorithms is consistently large (40%), thereby exaggerating the presence of hazardous conditions. This shortcoming results in part from the algorithms’ dependence upon visible and IR observations, and can be traced to the widespread prevalence of deep cumulonimbi with weak updrafts but without lightning over tropical oceans, whose origin is attributed to significant entrainment during ascent.

American Meteorological Society
Additional Information

This article was first given as a poster at the 12th (2006) Conference on Aviation Range and Aerospace Meteorology held in conjunction with the 86th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society.

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Citation Information
Michael F. Donovan, Earle R. Williams, Cathy Kessinger, Gary Blackburn, et al.. "The Identification and Verification of Hazardous Convective Cells Over Oceans Using Visible and Infrared Satellite Observations" Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology Vol. 47 Iss. 1 (2008) p. 164 - 184
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