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Satellite-borne and IN-situ Observations to Predict The Initiation of Convection for ATM

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SINOPTICA (Satellite-borne and IN-situ Observations to Predict The Initiation of Convection for ATM)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-05-31

The SINOPTICA project aims at exploiting the great potential of assimilating remote sensing (EO-derived and ground- based radar) as well GNSS-derived datasets, in situ weather stations and lighting data into very high-resolution, very short-range numerical weather forecasts to provide improved prediction of extreme weather events to the benefit of ATM operations with special focus on the tactical phases of flights arrival and departures.

The SINOPTICA project results have a great potential for society in terms of increasing the safety of flights and related take off/landing moments in case of extreme weather phenomena:
if not addressed properly, hazards to aviation associated to severe weather can lead to unsafe, high-level of workload of pilots and controllers, over consumption of fuel with air pollution implications, and ultimately to losses of separation and aircraft accidents.

Therefore SINOPTICA results are particularly interesting for two main motivations:

- in line with the actual areas for improvement of the meteorological products used in severe weather impact assessment as emerging from 2013 “EURCONTROL Severe Weather Risk Management Survey”, SINOPTICA can pave the way to the use of dedicated tools and models for assessment of severe weather impact on ATM and flight activities in an operational framework

- providing enhanced products, improving the accuracy of weather forecasts, appropriate to support efficient pre-tactical severe weather impact assessment and decision making whose need was confirmed also by the recent episodes such as Milano Malpensa case (

The overall objectives during the first year were:
- Provide access to satellite and ground-based weather data for different study regions in Europe
- Development of a near real- time ground-based GNSS water vapour monitoring system
- Investigation of the usefulness of deploying dedicated cost-effective GNSS stations near airport (Malpensa area installation)
- Development of a near real- time data assimilation system into a high- resolution NWM
- Investigation of the usefulness of the augmented NWM forecasts for ATM activities
The work performed since the beginning of the project is captured by the first period main deliverables:

- D2.1 Project Management Plan: it defines how this project is going to be carried out. It outlines the objectives, management, deliverables and milestones of a project, and it's essential for keeping SINOPTICA on track. Furthermore the document provides a clear insight into project specific processes such as adherence to H2020 rules and SJU SESAR 2020 Handbook, risks management, and quality as well as software management plans.

- D3.1 Dissemination and Exploitation Plan: SINOPTICA’s communication, dissemination and exploitation activities are being carried out through the active involvement of the scientific community as well as private and public stakeholders, which might become potential end-users of the SINOPTICA improved weather forecast system. Communication towards general public and authorities will aim to raise awareness about the importance of improving weather forecasts for Air Traffic Management (ATM) operations in order to avoid flight delays and to further improve the safety and comfort of passengers.

- D3.3 Data Management Plan: This document describes the SINOPTICA project data related activities in line with the Guidelines on Data Management in Horizon 2020 document. This DMP describes the data management life cycle for all datasets to be collected, processed and generated by the SINOPTICA project during the research activity. In detail, the document identifies the data collected and generated, how it will be exploited and/or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

- D4.1 Operation concept description and user requirements for adverse weather controller support:The SINOPTICA Operation concept description and user requirements for adverse weather controller support describes systems and their functionalities to support Area Control Centre (ACC) and Terminal Manoeuvring Area (TMA) air traffic controllers guiding aircraft and pilots in adverse weather situations. The main focus of this concept is a radar display extension to visualize actual and forecasted weather development and the automatic diversion generation of an extended Arrival Manager (Extended AMAN).

- D4.2 Evaluation Methodology and Plan: it describes the evaluation methodology of the SINOPTICA project. The expected benefits of the integration of convective weather into extended arrival management systems will be assessed by qualitative evaluations by ATM experts. Key performance indicators will be applied for qualitative assessments.

- D5.1 Report about selection: Four different severe events are selected to be analysed, where these events correspond to episodes that occurred in Italy during 2019/2020 and that somehow affected at least one Italian airport. In this report, analysis for each case is carried out from a meteorological point of view, ranging from synoptic scale to mesoscale. Moreover, radar products from the Italian mosaic (Radar Network of Civil Protection) have been used to investigate the spatial- temporal properties of the physical variables that are useful for air traffic management.
The progress beyond the state of the art achieved during the first year can be mainly summarised as it follows:

- Development of a near real-time ground-based GNSS water vapour monitoring system

- Development of a near real- time data assimilation system into a high- resolution NWM

- Investigation of the usefulness of the augmented NWM forecasts for ATM activities. This has been undertaken by selected three case studies hereafter summarized:

• Milano Malpensa airport, 11 May 2019: squall line hitting the airport between 14-15UTC, hail, 8 planes diverted to other airports;
• Venice Marco Polo airport, 7 July 2019: general instability with two different thunderstorms affecting the airport at 13UTC and 16UTC, strong wind gusts and 8 planes diverted;
• Bergamo Orio al Serio airport, 6 August 2019: high atmospheric instability with thunderstorms and hail hitting the airport around 19UTC, 7 planes diverted to other airports;
• Palermo Punta Raisi airport, 15 July 2020: unstable conditions in the area, with a self- regenerating cell hitting the city of Palermo, nearby the airport, between 17-18UTC.

For each of them multi-data 3DVAR assimilation experiments (WRF model) have been performed (CAPPI radar, in situ temperature weather stations, GNSS data, lightning data and GNSS-RO) and the modelling results will be validated against available observations. Significant results have been also achieved also concerning the radar nowcasting part using the PHAST algorithm.

Concerning the impact, currently available results support the expectation that by integrating SINOPTICA weather nowcasting predictions on severe weather areas into the extended AMAM procedures controllers will be able for the first time to recognise emerging thunderstorm cells timely and actively shape them by intervening in aircraft control. In this way, it is expected that SINOPTICA results can pave the way to significantly minimise the delays caused by blocked airspaces and short-term evasive manoeuvres by aircraft.
Image referring to the july 2021 event over Malpensa airport