Thunderstorms activity – concerns for aviation

Summary of research

Thunderstorms are a common natural phenomenon that significantly affects a flight safety worldwide. In our study (with focus on the Kyiv International Airport – Zhuliany, Ukraine) in total 379 cases of thunderstorms were investigated for 2009–2018. The methodological approach included in depth weather-climatological analysis and numerical modeling of thunderstorm activity.

At the first stage of the study, the main features of repeatability, diurnal cycle and annual variability of thunderstorms within the airport area were considered. It was found that the maximum development of thunderstorm activity is determined by the maximum warming of the underlying surface during the day and in the warm period of time, which is typical for temperate latitudes of continental areas.

Analysis of various synoptic conditions of thunderstorm formation showed that 63.3% were air mass thunderstorms. Among the thunderstorms that formed on the atmospheric fronts, the thunderstorms associated with cold fronts (23 %) dominated. Slightly more than 9% were thunderstorms, associated with warm fronts, and 4.5 % were the thunderstorms on occluded fronts.

This study also confirmed a well-known fact that significant inhomogeneities of the underlying surface can facilitate the development of dynamic or thermal convection, and hence, to contribute to intensification of the thunderstorm activity. In particular, it is indicated by an increase of the thunderstorm activity in the largest cities of Ukraine and a weak positive trend in the number of days with thunderstorms near the airport.

Thunderstorm forecasting methods have become widespread in the meteorological practice of aviation maintenance. The accuracy of methods was estimated using the “Meteoexpert” automatic system. It was found that the best estimates for the Kyiv airport are provided by the methods of Yagudin (79.8–91 %) and Sedletsky (80.7–91.5 %). The Lebedeva’s method showed slightly lower accuracy (77.4–87 %) and the Whiting’s method showed the lowest or unsatisfactory accuracy (i.e. 54.5–62.5 %).

Note that results of this study and approach taken can be also applicable for, at least, other airports in the temperate latitudes. The mentioned findings are of critical importance for servicing airports, and in particular, the Ukraine’s second biggest international airport. The results were presented by V. Zatula et al.* during the recent XX international Conference “Geoinformatics-2021” (May 11–14, 2021, Kyiv, Ukraine).

Figure 1. The number of days with a thunderstorm at the
Kyiv International Airport (Zhuliany) for 2009–2018.

Text by Vasyl Zatula (contact email: vaszatula(a) & Tatiana Symonets (contact email: tatiana884(a), Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (TSNUK), Kyiv, Ukraine

Related articles:

*V.I., Zatula; N.I., Zatula; T.S., Symonets (2021): Observation and forecasting of thunderstorms in the modern practice of advisory of Kyiv International Airport (Zhuliany). Proceedings of the XX International Conference “Geoinformatics: theoretical and applied aspects”. Kyiv, Ukraine, 1114 May 2021.

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