A prototype method for diagnosing high ice water content probability using satellite imager data
Abstract. Recent studies have found that ingestion of high mass concentrations of ice particles in regions of deep convective storms, with radar reflectivity considered safe for aircraft penetration, can adversely impact aircraft engine performance. Previous aviation industry studies have used the term high ice water content (HIWC) to define such conditions. Three airborne field campaigns were conducted in 2014 and 2015 to better understand how HIWC is distributed in deep convection, both as a function of altitude and proximity to convective updraft regions, and to facilitate development of new methods for detecting HIWC conditions, in addition to many other research and regulatory goals. This paper describes a prototype method for detecting HIWC conditions using geostationary (GEO) satellite imager data coupled with in situ total water content (TWC) observations collected during the flight campaigns. Three satellite-derived parameters were determined to be most useful for determining HIWC probability: (1) the horizontal proximity of the aircraft to the nearest overshooting convective updraft or textured anvil cloud, (2) tropopause-relative infrared brightness temperature, and (3) daytime-only cloud optical depth. Statistical fits between collocated TWC and GEO satellite parameters were used to determine the membership functions for the fuzzy logic derivation of HIWC probability. The products were demonstrated using data from several campaign flights and validated using a subset of the satellite–aircraft collocation database. The daytime HIWC probability was found to agree quite well with TWC time trends and identified extreme TWC events with high probability. Discrimination of HIWC was more challenging at night with IR-only information. The products show the greatest capability for discriminating TWC ≥ 0.5 g m−3. Product validation remains challenging due to vertical TWC uncertainties and the typically coarse spatio-temporal resolution of the GEO data.