Clear Air Turbulence: Detection by Infrared Observations of Water Vapor

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Science  03 Jun 1977:
Vol. 196, Issue 4294, pp. 1099-1100
DOI: 10.1126/science.196.4294.1099


"Forward-looking" infrared measurements of water vapor from the C-141A Kuiper Airborne Observatory of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Research Center show large, distinctly identifiable, signal anomalies from 4 to 10 minutes in advance of subsequent encounters with clear air turbulence (CAT). These anomalies are characteristically different from the signals not followed by CAT encounters. Results of airborne field trials in which the infrared radiometer was used indicate that, out of 51 situations, 80 percent were CAT alerts followed by CAT encounters, 12 percent were "false alarms" (CAT alerts not followed by CAT encounters), and 8 percent were CAT encounters not preceded by an infrared signal anomaly or CAT alert.