The work in the Research Applications Program is dedicated to the transfer of atmospheric research results into the domain of practical application by those who have to make weather-sensitive decisions in government agencies and the private sector. RAP began in 1982 with an emphasis on weather information related to aviation safety, and that emphasis continues to the present. The early windshear work has been followed, for example, by significant endeavors in the warning and prediction of icing conditions, thunderstorm activity, quantitative detection and forecasts of snowfall and freezing drizzle affecting aircraft operations on the ground at airports, and several aspects of atmospheric turbulence. Significant progress has been made in these areas. Successful technology transfers have been accomplished varying all the way from simple education and training, through transfer of advanced weather products to operational agencies, to the delivery of complete, turn-key systems (as in the Hong Kong Windshear and Turbulence Warning System discussed below).
Aviation is only one of a number of sectors of the economy, though, where accurate and timely weather information can play a key role in the safety and efficiency of commerce and the daily activity of humans. Using the same methods of nowcasting, remote sensing, fine-scale numerical modeling, and development of expert systems that have been employed for aviation, RAP is currently pursuing applications in hydrometeorology, public weather forecasts, and range weather. Applications to surface transportation are currently being considered, and in the future RAP hopes to address the needs of other weather-sensitive areas of the economy such as agriculture, energy, and construction.
The RAP staff of scientists and engineers work in close collaboration with universities, government laboratories, and other divisions of NCAR, particularly the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division and the Atmospheric Technology Division.
The following report summarizes the scientific work undertaken in pursuit of RAP's technology transfer mission. Of equal importance to our overall endeavor, but largely not covered here, is the work accomplished with end-users regarding requirement specification, education, and training, and the engineering developments necessary to actually transfer a capability.