Aviation safety can be jeopardized by multiple hazards arising from natural phenomena, e.g., severe weather, Aerosols/gases from natural hazard, space weather, and, though not directly affecting the safety of aviation but the planet, the climatic impact of aviation.
When it comes to severe weather, it is well known that flying through thunderstorms might lead to strong turbulence, wind shear, downbursts, icing, lightning and hail. With climate change on the rise, the weather is expected to have a larger impact on aviation. In the last years alone, the frequency of storms, winds and rainfall has not only increased, they have become more intense wreaking havoc on the ATM network. Other important factors affecting aviation safety are due to aerosols/gases arising from natural hazards, e.g., fire smokes, desert dust or volcanic ash and SO2 plumes: They are not so frequent as severe weather; however, their effects can be extremely disruptive. Dense smoke clouds from wildfire and dust/sea salt loaded areas in low altitude drastically reduce visibility. The engine ingestion of dust/smoke/sea salt aerosols can also induce severe damages (erosion, corrosion, pitot-static tube blockage, engine flame out in flight). Volcanic ash and SO2 gases are also major hazards, causing windscreen abrasions, reduction of visibility, damage to aircraft instrumentation and systems, hot corrosion (when sulphate’s coat inside/outside engine surfaces) that calls for extra maintenance, and most importantly stalling of engines due to the melting ash. Space weatheris understudied as aviation hazard. The immediate and delayed effects on aviation include: the disruption of radio/satellite communication (jeopardising VHF, HF and datalink communications, also those of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems – RPAS); the degradation of navigation systems, e.g., GNSS based procedures and magnetic compasses; increased radiation exposure to crew and passenger and higher risk for radiation-induced failures of on-board systems. Last but not least, aviation-induced climate change (also considered herein as a hazard) is not being considered today in ATM decision-making. Facing the continuing expansion of air traffic, the goal ofdeveloping a climatic aviation becomes increasingly challenging.
All in all, the overall objective of ALARM project is to develop a prototype global multi-hazard monitoring and Early Warning System for all these above exposed hazards. Continuous global Earth observations from satellite, ground-based systems, and atmospheric forecasts will be used to feed models capable of observing and predicting (nowcasting/forecasting) the displacement of particles in suspension and gas derived from natural hazards (volcanic ash and SO2, dust clouds from sandstorms, and smoke from forest fire); evere weather situations such as deep convection and extreme weather; exposure to increased levels of solar radiation during flight; and environmental hotspots potentially contributing to global warming in a large extent. Specifically, the aim is to enhance situational awareness of all stakeholders in case of multiple hazard crisis by facilitating the transfer of required relevant information to end-users, presenting such information in a user-friendly manner to ATM stakeholders. In summary, anticipating severe hazards and fostering better decision-making.
ALARM will enhance an existing alert system –https://sacs.aeronomie.be/nrt/– with additional observations coming from geostationary satellites, improving the capabilities of observing natural hazards such us volcanic ash, SO2 plumes, sandstorms, and forest fire.
ALARM will tailor alert products (based on observations from satellites) of volcanic ash, SO2 plumes, sandstorms, and forest fire to aviation stakeholders, including its severity, geographical location and altitude.
ALARM will develop nowcasting [up to 2 hours] and short-term forecasting [up to 6 hours] of SO2 plumes at a regional scale.
ALARM will develop nowcasting [up to 2 hours] and short-term forecasting [up to 6 hours] of severe thunderstorms at a local scale (airport).
ALARM will develop short-term forecasting [up to 6 hours] and medium-term forecasting [up to 48 hours] of climatic hotspots at a European scale.
ALARM will draft the requirements of all these alert products to be included in the SWIM Yellow profile.
All in all, ALARM ambitions to develop a prototype multi-hazard (phenomena representing different threats to aviation or environmental impact) alert system capable of integrating different data sources (satellites and ground-based instrumentation) and models (e.g., available weather forecasts), to develop early warning & nowcasting/forecasting solutions of the following phenomena: 1) aerosol particle and gas dispersion resulting from natural hazards (e.g. volcanic ash and SO2, dust from sandstorms); 2) severe weather hazards (deep convection and extreme weather); 3) space weather (situational risk and alert); and 4) environmental hotspots (via climate change functions). For each hazard producing (one or more) alert products will be integrated in ALARM’s EWS hosting platform (in charge of broadcasting the information to ATM stakeholders). An ad-hoc API (Application Programming Interface) is to be developed for visualisation purposes. In this overall concept, one can identify 3 blocks, namely: the EWS hosting platform; the multi-hazard models for early warning and nowcasting (for some specific hazards, e.g., the environmental one, also forecasting); the demo API tool (which includes the ATM information analysis).