Global aircraft grounding hampers weather forecasting during COVID-19

[Ref Flight International Magazine 28 Apr – 4 May 2020]

Global aircraft grounding hampers weather forecasting, says WMO

Sensors, computers and communications systems onboard commercial jets automatically collect and transmit meteorological observations to ground stations. However, this data collection has been curtailed by the sharp decline in air traffic.

“In-flight measurements of ambient temperature and wind speed and direction are a very important source of information for both weather prediction and climate monitoring,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says.

Lars Peter Riishojgaard, director, Earth System Branch in the WMO’s Infrastructure Department, says: “At the present time, the adverse impact of the loss of observations on the quality of weather forecast products is still expected to be relatively modest…. However, as the decrease in availability of aircraft weather observations continues and expands, we may expect a gradual decrease in reliability of the forecasts.”

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