New aviation weather forecasts are helping pilots to avoid storms over remote regions of the world's oceans, NASA said this week. A prototype system developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo., and funded by NASA, combines satellite data and computer weather models to produce eight-hour forecast maps, which are updated every three hours. NASA said development of the forecasts was spurred in part by the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447, which encountered a complex of thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.
"These new forecasts can help fill an important gap in our aviation system," said NCAR's Cathy Kessinger, lead researcher on the project. "Pilots have had limited information about atmospheric conditions as they fly over the ocean, where conditions can be severe. By providing them with a picture of where significant storms will be during an eight-hour period, the system can contribute to both the safety and comfort of passengers on flights." More details about the new technology can be found here. The forecasts are displayed online here.