On 18 May, a virtual introductory session was held for Regional Association IV (RA IV) on Aircraft-based Observations (ABO) and the WMO-IATA Collaborative AMDAR Programme (WICAP). A total of 62 participants from 18 WMO Members (17 of them from RA IV) joined the session.
The opening remarks of the President of RA IV, Mr Evan Thompson, highlighted the ongoing regional reform process and the importance of these types of regional technical activities to promote new ways of working in the Regional Associations. Mr Thompson also emphasized the importance of acquiring aircraft meteorological data to ground stations, to be processed and used to produce better weather predictions on different time scales, within the framework of the WMO-IATA Collaborative AMDAR Programme (WICAP).
Ms Minna Huuskonen (WMO Secretariat) provided a general introduction of the concept and benefits of ABO, the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) programme and WICAP, explaining the importance of upper-air observations for the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS), in support of several WMO application areas. Ms Huuskonen also presented the status of AMDAR data availability and coverage and provided details on the aims and key aspects of WICAP, including data policy and organizational roles.
Mr Brent King (International Air Transport Association, IATA) explained to the meeting participants the current and envisioned role of IATA in WICAP and AMDAR development and its benefit for airlines, listing participating airlines worldwide as well as highlighting the potentiality of new airlines to participate in the programme. Mr Brent also presented IATA’s involvement strategy as well as the WICAP next steps as of May 2021.
Mr Curtis Marshall (National Weather Service, United States of America) described the experiences of the AMDAR Programme in the USA. Mr Marshall first offered terminology and jargon relevant to the meeting, and then described the US ABO Programme in terms of its relationship with the regional and global programmes, history, operational configuration and structure, to finally close with some lessons learned. The impact of COVID-19 was also reported, as well as planned activities concerning North America and the WMO Regional Association III.
Mr Juan Carlos Ramos Soto (Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, SMN) presented experiences from the Mexico AMDAR Programme, including history, benefits, agreements and contracts, and participating airlines. Mr Ramos described the relationship SMN-Aeromexico and the process of transmission and use of AMDAR data to improve numerical weather forecasts. Finally, some statistics of the operation of the AMDAR programme in Mexico during 2019 were shared.
Mr Frédéric Lenormand (Meteorological Service Canada) provided background and experiences on the Canadian AMDAR Programme, highlighting its priorities, its impact on data assimilation for forecasting purposes and current status, as well as the impacts associated with COVID-19. The presentation ended with issues, lessons learned and planned next steps by the Canadians.
In reference to future opportunities and plans for the RA IV Regional AMDAR Programme, Ms Huuskonen described a proposal for a roadmap over the period of 2021-22 with actions for the establishment and development of a regional AMDAR programme under the WICAP framework.
An active and technically valuable question-and-answer segment closed the session with the aim of further informing and engaging RA IV Members in the regional component of this important programme. The reference material and presentations are available online.