Premature Extinction of the Weather Observer: How Much Risk is the Air Force Assuming
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AFB United States
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This research addresses the representativeness of various fielded Automated Meteorological Observing Systems AMOS and the policies under which these systems are employed by the United States U.S. Air Force. A pool of 1791 surface weather observations were collected from various AMOS over three collection periods within the Republic of Korea and compared to human-augmented observations for the same periods to assess sky condition and visibility hit-rates and performance. Hits within this study are defined as ceilings positively identified within 1,000 feet and visibility assessed within 1 reportable value. The results indicate wide variance in performance of respective FMQ-19, FMQ-23, and TMQ-53 sensors within the same aerodrome with ceiling hit-rates ranging from 69.4 -76.5 and visibility hit-rates ranging from 19.2 -73.1 . When fair weather observations were removed from the total pool, performance dropped to 42.4 -56.5 and 8.1 -35.3 for ceilings and visibility, respectively. Additionally, surface weather observation policy was found to passively accept potentially erroneous AMOS weather reports even when the capability to augment with a human observer exists. Recommendations include modifying policy to pro-actively augment surface weather observations with a human observer in the loop, base-lining fielded AMOS sensors to reduce variability, and simplifying fielded systems toward the goal of minimizing manpower requirements.