In a climate as diverse as Canada's, there exists endless possibilities of surface precipitation types, from snow to rain to everything in between. We have figured out ways to cope, but some of these bring major challenges to parts of our everyday life, like aviation, road transportation, power generation and distribution, winter recreation, ecology and hydrology.
These challenges are predicted to get more extreme and less manageable as the climate continues to warm. To better protect our infrastructure, it is necessary to increase our ability to adequately observe, diagnose, simulate and forecast them, before it's too late.
Forecasting the future of aviation precipitation
To help get ahead of the issue, our Aerospace Research Centre teamed up with international partners from February 1 to March 15, 2022, on a large scale project called Winter Precipitation Type Research Multi-scale Experiment (WINTRE-MIX). The project was conducted in an area encompassing Montréal, Quebec and Kingston, Ontario. The goal was to study clouds to better differentiate conditions, which lead to different kinds of precipitation. The project combined different methods of observation from aircraft, mobile radars, and other surface-based instruments. The NRC's Airborne Facilities for Atmospheric Research and Reconnaissance team under Dr. Mengistu Wolde's leadership used their Convair-580 aircraft as a flying laboratory to collect invaluable data by flying directly into storms! The NRC's Convair-580 is equipped with full airborne in-situ cloud microphysics and remote sensing capability, making it an invaluable asset for atmospheric research in Canada.
This research project will make fundamental contributions to the fields of cloud and precipitation microphysics, numerical modelling and forecasting, radar meteorology, boundary layer meteorology and mountain meteorology. It will help improve the forecasting of near-freezing precipitations, increase communications between researchers, forecasters and stakeholders, and expand scientific training, literacy and engagement between academia and industry. This ability to better predict will in turn help in mitigating potential damage from precipitation, and improving preparedness for such events.
All collected data from this collaboration will be shared publicly to ensure that weather and climate research can benefit from it for years to come.
We would like to thank the principal investigators of the WINTRE-MIX project and their teams:
- University of Albany (Justin Minder, Nick Bassill)
- University of Colorado Boulder (Katja Friedrich, Andrew Winters)
- University of Wyoming (David Kingsmill, Jeffrey R. French)
- National Research Council Canada (Leonid Nichman, Cuong Nguyen)
We would also like to thank researchers, graduate students and weather forecasters that contributed to the success of the winter-mix project flight campaign:
- University of Québec at Montréal – UQAM
- McGill University
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- National Weather Service
- Northview Weather
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- FAA-TAIWIN demonstration project team from FAA, NCAR and Leading Edge Atmospherics.
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