In-Cloud Icing and Large-Drop Experiment

01/27/2019 - 03/08/2019
Project Location
Western Great Lakes and Nearby Plains States

Aircraft icing is a major focus of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sponsored Aviation Weather Research Program. This includes the development of methods for diagnosis and forecasting of aircraft icing at the surface and aloft. The goal of this work is to reduce the rate of aircraft icing-related accidents and fatalities for aircraft operations in the National Airspace System (NAS). The FAA has been sponsoring the development of national-scale icing products to support the en-route domain under the IFI (In-Flight Icing) research project as well as the development and testing of new capabilities for the terminal area domain under the TAIWIN (Terminal Area Icing Weather Information for NextGen) research project.

SLD regulatory changes (see icing certification rule §25.1420, enacted in January 2015) necessitate improvements to icing weather information available, in the terminal area and en-route, and the identification of and detailed discrimination between SLD, its subcategories, and other icing and non-icing environments. The TAIWIN and IFI projects are to address these needs as part of the development and testing of icing weather tools and capabilities, and to facilitate their improvement. It is critical to compile a new, high-quality set of in-situ measurements covering a broad spectrum of icing conditions (freezing drizzle, freezing rain, “small drop” icing, high liquid water contents (above the limits of Appendix C – “exceedance conditions”), and mixed phase) as well as non-icing conditions (glaciated environments and clear air).

To this end, the FAA is planning ICICLE (the In-Cloud ICing and Large-drop Experiment), a field program where the FAA and other agencies will work with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to fly the NRC Convair-580 research aircraft into the conditions described above in a 5-6 week window between January and March of 2019. To characterize the environment, the NRC Convair-580 will carry a wide array of in-situ and remote sensing systems (W and X-band radar, LIDAR and radiometer) that will provide atmospheric and aircraft state parameters, aerosol and cloud microphysical properties, and cloud structure. Ground-based sensor suites will also be deployed across the domain, with two super-sites and two sub-sites planned. The super-sites are to be more heavily instrumented than the sub-sites. The program will focus on the western Great Lakes and nearby Plains States, with the aircraft operating out of Rockford, Illinois (KRFD). Climatology studies and past flight programs have shown that the atmospheric icing conditions described above are relatively common in the identified sampling domain, while rich operational datasets are also available there to allow the icing tools to be thoroughly assessed. The terrain is relatively flat, enhancing safety and allowing samples to be made down to low altitudes. Profiles will be flown to capture the entire vertical structure, from near the surface to above cloud top, and missed approaches will sometimes be flown to capture sub-cloud and near surface conditions. Although heavy air traffic can limit access to conditions favorable for icing in close proximity to cities like Chicago, most areas in the domain have reasonably light traffic, allowing for thorough sampling 24 hours a day. There is a preference to operate more in the vicinity of the super-sites whenever possible.

The ICICLE field program will allow scientists to deepen their understanding of the mechanisms associated with SLD environments, including initiation, persistence and cessation, as well as operationally-critical transitions between SLD, small-drop and non-icing environments. It will also provide crucial, high-quality data for real-time testing and post-analysis validation/verification of current operational icing products and candidate icing tools that are in use or under development for TAIWIN and IFI. Such icing weather information is derived from operational icing products (e.g. Current Icing Product (CIP) and Forecast Icing Product (FIP)) output and numerical weather models, as well as ensembles and enhancements of those models. Icing relevant information is also derived from satellite (e.g. GOES-16), NEXRAD (including MRMS mosaics and products), lightning networks, pilot reports and surface weather observations (e.g. ASOS and post-processing enhancements to the algorithms applied to ASOS data).

This research is in response to requirements and funding by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 


Principal Investigators

Stephanie DiVito, FAA

Scott Landolt, NCAR / RAL

Danny Sims, FAA

Julie Haggerty NCAR / RAL

Data Manager