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A Meteorological System for Planning and Analyzing Soaring Flights in Colorado USA

Edward Hindman, Stephen Saleeby, Olivier Liechti, William Cotton


The Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) at the Colorado State University was adapted to produce meteorological predictions for the Analysen and Konzepte TopTask Competition (TTC) soaring flight planning and analysis algorithm.  The predictions were for regions surrounding the major gliderports in Colorado USA.  The TTC algorithm required predictions, at 30 minute intervals through the daily convective-cycle, of the height of the convective boundary layer (CBL), the climb rates and the horizontal winds at 1000 m AGL.  The RAMS-TTC system was tested using flight records from the On-line Contest.  The system was found to be particularly sensitive to the climb rate predictions.  Using the longest flights from May 2006 (average flight 553 km), the predictions of the flight speeds, CBL heights and climb rates were verified: the average predicted and actual speeds were 107+/-3 kph and 112+/-6 kph, the average CBL height and climb rates were predicted to be, respectively, 5.3+/-0.2 km MSL and 2.0+/-0.1 m/s while the average actual height and rates were 5.1+/-0.2 km MSL and 2.0+/-0.1 m/s.  The average 1000 m AGL horizontal wind predictions were not as accurate.   These results demonstrate that the RAMS predictions can be used with the TTC algorithm for planning and analyzing soaring flights in Colorado and, no doubt, elsewhere in the USA.


Meteorology, Atmospheric Physics

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