Honolulu-based Oceanit has created a cloud-monitoring device to help pilots and air-traffic controllers make aircraft landings safer with a more accurate picture of weather conditions, said Christopher Sullivan, a senior research engineer at Oceanit.
The device, a 3-D ceilometer, shoots laser beams into the sky, measuring water vapor and distance based on speed and intensity of the beams' reflection.
Clouds are made of water vapor.
Oceanit's 3-D ceilometer has the advantage of measuring an area of at least 10 miles in diameter, compared with the 6-inch-diameter area the current system uses for its data collection, which is not comprehensive enough during rapid cloud movement, Sullivan
"The problem is the current Automated Surface Observation System used to monitor weather historically has been bad in conditions of rapidly changing weather," he
"The data from the system goes to air-traffic control and pilots and doesn't capture the cloud ceiling, especially when storm clouds are moving in."
"Our ceilometer looks over an entire area span and rapidly integrates all the information that you can still use without bombarding the user with data," Sullivan
At present, the Navy observes and measures cloud cover manually, resulting in inconsistent measurements, Sullivan
"Without our system they have to have a lot of people involved when there are any level of clouds around, and when conducting light operations they have to have two-hour surveillance," he