Evaluating Satellite Sounding Temperature Observations for Cold Air Aloft Detection
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Evaluating Satellite Sounding Temperature Observations for Cold Air Aloft Detection

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    Cold Air Aloft (CAA) can impact commercial flights when cold air descends below 12,192 m (40,000 ft) and temperatures drop dramatically. A CAA event is identified when air temperature falls below −65 °C, which decreases fuel efficiency and poses a safety hazard. This manuscript assesses the performance of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS) in detecting CAA events using sounders on polar-orbiting satellites. We compare NUCAPS air temperature profiles with those from Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) for January–March 2018. Of 1311 collocated profiles, 236 detected CAA. Our results showed that NUCAPS correctly detects CAA in 48.1% of profiles, while 17.2% are false positives and 34.7% are false negatives. To identify the reason for these detection states, we used a logistic regression trained on NUCAPS diagnostic parameters. We found that cloud cover can impact the skill even at higher vertical levels. This work indicates that a CAA-specific quality flag is feasible and may be useful to help forecasters to diagnose NUCAPS in real-time. Furthermore, the inclusion of an additional sounder data source (e.g., NOAA-20) may increase CAA forecast accuracy. Cloud scenes change rapidly, so additional observations provide more opportunities for correct detection.
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    Atmosphere, 11(12), 1360
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    CC BY
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