May 2012 - Third Flying Phase of DIAMET
The most recent flights for the DIAMET project have been taking place and continuing from last years excellent conditions the team have been flying in and around a warm front that passed over the UK. For the flight on the 9th of May 2012 they were accompanied by some extra guests, news teams from the BBC and Channel 4.
DIAMET (DIAbatic influences on Mesoscale structures in ExTratropical storms) is a three year project and plans to investigate the high winds and heavy rain familiar to the north-west of Europe. More details of the project and what it aims to achieve can be found in this news article featured last year.
DIAMET involves University groups from Manchester, Leeds, Reading and East Anglia, together with the Met Office as well as NCAS and the National Centre for Earth Observation. DIAMET is part of the Natural Environment Research Council's Storm Risk Mitigation research programme. It is a three-year project that began in October 2010 with a number of specific objectives aimed at improving weather forecasts.
The main tool that DIAMET is using for the detailed measurements is a specially-instrumented research aircraft operated by NERC and the Met Office. This aircraft, a BAe 146, can fly into the storms, making detailed measurements of the temperature, humidity and wind distribution as well as the cloud and precipitation particles. Mission scientist and the project leader Professor Geraint Vaughan from NCAS was on-board the aircraft on the 9th of May.
Being interviewed whilst flying on the Atmosperic Research Aircraft and aired the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (10/05/12) Professor Geraint Vaughan explained that with these flights and measurements the DIAMET team were "Trying to focus in on quite small processes within the storms that we don't capture well in the weather forecasting models at the moment", going on to say that "Improving the forecasting of flooding is one of the main aims of this research".
Some of the aircraft instruments that measure the cloud particles are very specialised and are operated by scientists from the Facility for Ground-based Measurements (FGAM) and the University of Manchester.
The aircraft measurements are just one part of the story. Ground-based measurements provided by the Chilbolton radar and the Met Office network radars complete the picture and working together the DIAMET team gather exceptional data furthering knowledge of what is happening inside these storms. The teams on the ground are working to support the aircraft in this project, together they are producing a wide range of data that will allow a full analysis of the types of weather that bring the heaviest rainfall to the UK.
This is the third flying phase of DIAMET, two aircraft campaigns occurred in 2011, in September and November-December, and there are plans for another intensive flying campaign in July 2012. Spreading the campaigns out over a whole year allows the team to investigate a range of weather events in different seasons.
DIAMET got off to very good start in September 2011, capturing several weather systems in the west and north of the UK. One of these in particular gave a prolonged period of heavy rain in the South-West and Midlands which proved particularly difficult to forecast accurately. Our good fortune continued in November-December with six more IOPs during a spell of particularly stormy weather. The highlight was our sampling of the very high winds over Scotland in Cyclone Friedhelm on December 8th.
BBC News story - Turbulence Ahead: Flight Heads into storm's heart
PI Geriant Vaughan was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 news this morning - available on the BBC iPlayer for the next 7 days.
Channel 4 News -
Planet Earth Online Blog - The best way to understand a violent storm is to fly into it...
Notes for Editors:
1. The Chilbolton weather radar is part of the NERC-funded Chilbolton Facility for Atmospheric and Radio Research (CFARR), which is hosted by STFC on the Chilbolton Observatory site. Science and Technology Facilities Council: http://www.stfc.ac.uk/