Researchers Improve Turbulence Forecasts

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Everyone who flies depends on weather reports and forecasts every day, but we seldom think about the raw science that goes into making and refining such predictions. This week, a team of weather researchers from the U.S. and U.K. say they have come up with a better way to forecast clear-air turbulence, based on "spontaneous imbalance theory." John Knox, Donald McCann, and Paul Williams said their new technique is more consistently successful than current methods, and improves on an earlier method developed by McCann. The team will present a paper about their work next week at the Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology Conference in New Orleans.

For those so inclined, McCann's Web site provides technical descriptions of the various types of turbulence that affect aircraft, and the algorithms he uses to predict their behavior.