Washington: With two tragic air incidents following hard on the heels of each other over the world's oceans, comes some timely news from NASA, which has said it will fund the development of a prototype system that will provide aircraft pilots with updates about severe storms and turbulence as they fly across remote ocean regions.
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado and at the University of Wisconsin are developing a system that combines satellite data and computer weather models with cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques.
The aim is to identify and rapidly predict evolving storms and other potential areas of turbulence.
"Turbulence is the leading cause of injuries in commercial aviation," said John Haynes, programme manager in the Earth Science Division's Applied Sciences Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This new work to detect the likelihood of turbulence associated with oceanic storms using key space-based indicators is of crucial importance to pilots."
The system will aim to guide pilots away from stormy weather. It will use a variety of NASA spacecraft observation satellites, including data from the Terra, Aqua, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites. The system will enter testing phase next year.