Scientific American recognizes NCAR scientists
Scientific American magazine has placed two RAP scientists on its 2003 Scientific American 50 list. The list, which recognizes outstanding acts of leadership in technology, names RAP’s Larry Cornman and Bob Sharman in its research leader category.
With funding from NASA, Larry and Bob worked with two RAP teams to develop a software package called the NCAR Efficient Spectral Processing Algorithm (NESPA) to help pilots navigate storms without encountering air turbulence. NESPA is a quality-control and turbulence prediction method used with airborne Doppler radars like those on commercial aircraft. It will help pilots decide which regions are safe to fly through, particularly in dryer areas that pilots assume are safe but may be turbulent.
Last summer, scientists tested NESPA on a NASA B-757 aircraft as it flew through numerous thunderstorms. “We caught over 80% of the turbulence encounters, with very few false detections,” Larry says. “We were pleasantly surprised at the algorithm’s performance. It’s always satisfying to see theoretical efforts come alive in the real world.”
Larry credited the two NCAR teams for the success of NESPA’s development. Beth Chorbajian, Shel Gerding, Greg Meymaris, and John Williams helped him develop the algorithms. Rod Frehlich, Teddie Keller, and Todd Lane helped Bob conduct cloud-scale turbulence modeling used in radar simulations.
RAP also won a NASA award for its work on the project last year. For more on that award, see the June 2003 issue of Staff Notes Monthly.
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