The Variety of New Commercial Aircraft Sensors for Weather, Climate, and Air Quality Applications: Accuracy and Use

Rex J. Fleming
SpectraSensors, Inc

The use of commercial aircraft as platforms of opportunity to provide real time wind and temperature data began in 1979. Today there are organized national efforts to use the commercial aircraft as observing platforms in 15 countries and another 18 countries have similar programs in various stages of development. The reasons for the growth involve the convenience of the platforms, the remarkable accuracy achievable by existing and planned sensors on-board the commercial aircraft, and the increasing demand for more accurate data in quality and quantity for various socioeconomic applications. Each of these three factors is addressed in the presentation. The addition of an accurate water vapor sensor and other sensors for atmospheric trace gases of interest has been driven by the downward spiral of laser prices and various technologies that have come together. These are briefly reviewed. The emphasis of the presentation is on the accuracy of the sensors and the various socioeconomic applications that are driving the demand for more accuracy in our science.