Expanding collection of weather data from aircraft

This data includes factors such as temperature and wind speed at different points in the atmosphere at the height that the plane is flying, which is very useful to analyse as part of the weather forecasting process.

Data such as this is essential in the evolution of weather and climate services such as: warnings that keep people safe, forecasts that help industries manage their operations more efficiently, and advice to help decision makers better understand how climate change is impacting their communities and infrastructure.

KNMI and the Met Office are already working collaboratively with others to collect and share these data with our partners across Europe. Through a new intiative, this work will be expanded to capture much more weather data from aircraft flying in other parts of the world. We are working with Flightradar24, who already have a global network of MODE-S receivers, as this is the same data set that is used for their flight tracking applications.

Dr Ed Stone, Expert Observations Scientist at the Met Office said: “Observed profiles of temperature and wind through the atmosphere are essential data for our forecasts. Using Mode-S aircraft data gives us a means to achieve a step change in available observation profiles from regions of the world such as Africa and Asia which are often data sparse.”

Mr Jan Sondij MBA, Senior Advisor Aviation Meteorology at KNMI said: “At KNMI we already manage the European Meteorological Aircraft Derived Data Center (EMADDC) on behalf of the European Meteorological Services Network (EUMETNET). It makes sense for us to work with our colleagues at the Met Office to extend this capability to include parts of the world where Mode-S weather data is not yet being collected. We will make this data available to all national weather services around the world who will be able to use it to improve their weather predictions.”

Weather and climate services are constantly evolving and improving. All forecasts start with observations of what the weather is doing right now, and it is essential that the density of observations keeps pace with the next generation modelling capabilities.

Tom Butcher, Head of Observations Partnerships at the Met Office said: “By working in collaboration, the Met Office and KNMI together with Flightradar24 are enabling the future generation of weather forecasts by enhancing our global observing capabilities.”