It takes a sharp eye to find something positive in the wreckage of the worst swarm of U.S. tornadoes on record: the 1974 Jumbo Outbreak. Millions of Americans are safer in the air because of Fujita's subsequent analysis of microbursts and tools developed by NCAR and collaborators.
New research points to gravity waves, which ripple unseen through the atmosphere, as the culprit in many cases of clear-air turbulence. If those waves can be forecast, the research suggests that planes in many cases could be rerouted around them.
Thanks to deicing treatment and careful route selection, commercial pilots now avoid most of the threat that ice will encase critical parts of a plane. But another, more mysterious kind of in-flight icing hazard is now gaining attention.
Many facets of everyday life, from boarding a plane to turning on the lights or driving down the highway, are becoming safer and more cost-effective with the help of technologies rooted in atmospheric science.
On December 20, 2008, a Boeing 737 with Continental Airlines encountered a crosswind gust during takeoff at Denver International Airport, causing it to veer off the runway. Simulations done at NCAR indicate that a mountain lee wave amplified over DIA within minutes of the accident.
A turbulence warning system alerting pilots landing at and departing from Juneau International Airport in southeast Alaska has taken a significant step toward completion with the integration of Federal Aviation Administration radio communications into the system.
NCAR and university researchers are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Federal Aviation Administration to study how bird-detecting radar at airports could help prevent dangerous airplane bird strikes.
Several red-eye commercial flights were rocked by moderate to severe turbulence as they flew across northeast Kansas early on June 17, 2005. A new study by NCAR scientists Stan Trier and Bob Sharman uses modeling to connect storms in Oklahoma with the Kansas turbulence.
Cory Morse, NCAR's Research Applications Laboratory • Morse trained in science, but has the soul of an engineer, which makes her job as a software engineer in NCAR's applied research group a perfect fit.