TAMDAR Sensor Network

Through its TAMDAR sensor network, AirDat fills gaps in publicly available weather information to produce more accurate and precise forecasts that have been independently studied and endorsed by third-party atmospheric scientists.

Since the first use of the radiosonde (weather balloon) in 1937, U.S. weather services have grown to depend on a small network of these devices as the backbone of our national forecasting system.  While the legacy program for obtaining in-situ upper air data has formed the foundation of meteorological forecasting for decades, the efficacy of the program is limited by infrequency of the balloon launches and their large geographic displacement.  Such wide gaps in time and location mean that when the atmosphere is changing rapidly, radiosondes often do not detect it.

AirDat has pioneered a state-of-the-art system designed to fill in these large spatial and temporal gaps.  Our TAMDAR system supplements radiosonde data by employing commercial aircraft as platforms for real-time atmospheric data collection.  With a more complete and higher resolution meteorological data set, TAMDAR provides a more accurate and dynamic view of the weather.

The TAMDAR Advantage:

TAMDAR data are collected and aggregated from sensors installed across a large and growing number of partner commercial aircraft operating throughout North America, the Caribbean and Europe.   This dense data set is streamed to AirDat’s operations center in real-time through a dedicated satellite data link installed with each TAMDAR sensor.  Finally the TAMDAR data pass through AirDat’s proprietary quality assurance systems and are assimilated into specialized, sophisticated atmospheric models.

The TAMDAR system offers measurable improvements over other forecasting methods, including:

  • Atmospheric sampling at times and in geographies that are not covered by radiosonde data (versus approximately 45,000 square miles covered by each weather balloon every 12 hours)
  • Real-time data transmission (~60 seconds versus 2+ hour latency)
  • In-situ metrics not typically captured by other aircraft observations, including relative humidity, icing and turbulence
  • GPS stamps including latitude, longitude, altitude, date and time on each observation that enable accurate 4D placement in atmospheric models

Independently Endorsed:

Independent studies of AirDat’s TAMDAR Data conducted by NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) scientists have found TAMDAR data quality and precision to equal or surpass the accuracy and biases of radiosonde data. 

In 2006, the FAA Air Traffic Organization provided funding to NOAA to assess the TAMDAR data impact on the current operational aviation Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) model.  This four-year study validated and quantified substantial reduction of forecasting errors in the model by the inclusion of TAMDAR data. AirDat’s modeling systems, optimized for the real-time TAMDAR data stream, produce even greater error reductions, and are continuously improving through an ongoing process of refinement and development.