Automatic Weather Sensors/Systems


During the 1980s automated weather observing systems were developed to augment or replace human observers to improve the timeliness and consistency of surface weather observations for aviation use. The accuracy of these systems depends critically on the capability of the sensors and processing algorithms used to generate the measurement products. Three optical sensors provide the information most critical to aviation: visibility, ceiling and present weather.


Dr. Burnham has participated in the development of all three critical optical sensors. His expertise in forward scattermeters, used to measure visibility and runway visual range (RVR) has been recognized internationally. The following is a list of his weather sensor/system publications:

"An Investigation of Laser Lighting Systems to Assist Aircraft Landing," Report No. FAA-RD-79-97, October 1979

"Pulsed Laser Doppler Measurements of Wind Shear", C. DiMarzio C. Harris, J.W. Bilbro, E.A. Weaver and D.C. Burnham, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 60, No. 9, September 1979, pp. 1061-1066

"Rain Response of Forward-Scatter Visibility Sensors," David C. Burnham, Fifth Symposium Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation, April 11-15, 1983, Toronto, Ont., Canada, American Meteorological Society, Boston, MA, pp. 102-104.

"AWOS Sensor Evaluation," D.C. Burnham and D.F. Collins, Jr., DOT/FAA/PM-83-20, January 1984

"Evaluation of Visibility Sensors at the Eglin Air Force Base Climatic Chamber," DOT/FAA/PM-83/29, October 1983

"Otis ANGB Visibility Sensor Field Test Study," D. Schwartz and D. Burnham, AFGL-TR-86-0011, February 1987.

"Climatological Study to Determine the Impact of Icing on the Low Level Windshear Alert System," J. Vilcans and D. Burnham, DOT-TSC-FAA-89-2, September 1989.

"High Visibility Measurements and Reference Standards," Seventh Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation and Special Sessions on Laser Atmospheric Studies, January 14-18, 1991, New Orleans, LA, American Meteorological Society, Boston, MA, pp 332-337.

"Validation of a Forward-Scatter Visibility Sensor for RVR Measurements," WMO Conference on Instruments and Methods of Observation, Vienna, Austria, 11-15 May 1992, pp 320-324.

"1991 LLWAS Anemometer Test Program," C. O. Phillips, D. Burnham, L. Jacobs and D. Hazen, Report No. DOT/FAA/W/92-1, September 1992.

"Fog, Snow and Rain Calibrations for Forward-Scatter Visibility Sensors," Eighth Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation, January 17-22, 1993, Anaheim CA, American Meteorological Society, pp 66-71.

"Evaluation of a Prevailing Visibility Sensor based on a Scanning Solid State Video Camera," H.A. Brown & D.C. Burnham, Eighth Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation, January 17-22, 1993, Anaheim CA, American Meteorological Society, pp 80-85.

"Calibration Error Simulation for Forward Scatter Visibility Sensors," M.D. West, D.C. Burnham & C.S. Miles, Sixth Conference on Aviation Weather Systems, Instrumentation, January 15-20, 1995, Dallas, TX, American Meteorological Society, pp 341-346.

"New Generation Runway Visual Range System," C.S. Miles, D.C. Burnham & G. Karimi, Sixth Conference on Aviation Weather Systems, January 15-20, 1995, Dallas, TX, American Meteorological Society, pp 347-350.

"Validation of New Generation Runway Visual Range (RVR) System for Category IIIb," M.D. West, D.C. Burnham & C.S. Miles, Sixth Conference on Aviation Weather Systems, January 15-20, 1995, Dallas, TX, American Meteorological Society, pp 351-356.

"Snow Performance of New Generation Runway Visual Range (RVR) System," M.D. West, D.C. Burnham & C.S. Miles, Sixth Conference on Aviation Weather Systems, January 15-20, 1995, Dallas, TX, American Meteorological Society, pp 357-361.

"Application of Frequency of Occurrence Data Derived from Surface Observations in the Evaluation of Visibility Sensor Performance," R.E. D'Errico, D.C. Burnham & C.S. Miles, Ninth Conference on Applied Climatology," January 15-20, 1995, Dallas, TX, American Meteorological Society, pp 7-12.

More recent publications will be added shortly.

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Last Updated August 16, 1997 by David Burnham