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The need for unbiased aircraft temperature and pressure data
by Mr. Bruce Ingleby


In some regions aircraft reports make up a large proportion of the data available for operational weather forecasting and reanalyses, such as ERA5. It has been known for about 15 years that aircraft temperatures tend to be biased high (typically between 0.5 and 1.5 K). NWP and reanalysis centres perform bias correction of temperatures for individual aircraft - this reduces the problem but does not eliminate it. There are still issues over airports in the USA for example. Bias corrections are also needed for satellite soundings but for aircraft we can envisage improved processing so that they are essentially unbiased. In that case aircraft temperatures would be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Because aircraft travel at high speed the measured temperature can be 20 K higher than the air temperature, this contribution is estimated from the airspeed and subtracted. However, the airspeed also depends on the temperature and it appears that the processing is not iterated to convergence (de Haan et al, 2022). There is some dependence on aircraft type/avionics. Recent work suggests that aircraft pressures may also have biases at mid-levels.


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Topic : Theme 1: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
Reference : T1-A16

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