2 AimTo learn about Thunderstorms and Icing and the hazards associated with them
3 Objectives State how conditions necessary for thunderstorm formation Describe the lifecycle of a thunderstormState hazards associated with thunderstormsExplain the conditions necessary for formation of iceState different types of ice
4 Revision The standard atmosphere assumes sea level to be: A pressure of hPaA temperature of 15°CA density of kg/m³Diurnal variation is the heating and cooling of the earth over a:24 hour period.The 3 states of water are:Gas (vapour)Liquid (water)Solid (ice)Cloud height datum in an area forecast is given above:above mean sea level (AMSL)
5 Revision The different layers of the atmosphere are: The troposphere The stratosphereThe mesophereThe thermosphereMost flying occurs in the troposphere, although most jets cruise in the stratosphere
6 1. Thunderstorm Formation BackgroundA thunderstorm is one where there are one or more sudden electrical dischargesThey are shown by a flash of lightning and a rumble of thunderThe speed of sound is a lot slower than the speed of light therefore the thunder comes after the lightningThunderstorms are often accompanied by heavy rain, hail, squalls, microbursts and tornadoes.
7 1. Thunderstorm Formation 3 conditions necessaryThere are 3 conditions necessary for the formation of thunderstorms.Deep instabilitySignificant moistureTrigger mechanism/lifting mechanisim
8 1. Thunderstorm Formation InstabilityThe atmosphere must be conditionally stable or unstable from the surface to high levelsA high environmental lapse rate will cause the atmosphere toward instability as the air will keep risingEither heating of the bottom layers or cooling of top layers increases the ELR and reduces atmospheric stability.
9 1. Thunderstorm Formation MoistureSufficient water vapour must be present in the atmosphere to produce a cumulonimbus cloud,The latent heat released during the formation increases their buoyancy and enhances their development.
10 1. Thunderstorm Formation Trigger mechanismThis trigger mechanism must be present to produce the initial lifting of the surface air.Once it has been lifted, the latent heat released during cloud formation and the atmospheric instability will ensure the continued ascentSome thunderstorms are classified according to the trigger mechanism that caused the initial lifting of air, ie frontal thunderstorms.
11 2. Lifecycle of thunderstorms Lifecycle of a thunderstormA thunderstorm makes its way through three distinct stages before dissipating.Cumulus or building stageMature stageDissipating stage
12 2. Lifecycle of thunderstorms Cumulus stageThe cumulus stage is where the thunderstorm begins with the start of the lifting action of airIf sufficient moisture and instability are present, the clouds continue to increase in vertical heightContinuous, strong updrafts prevent moisture from fallingThe updraft region grows larger then the individual thermals feeding the storm
13 2. Lifecycle of thunderstorms Mature stageWithin approximately 15 minutes, the thunderstorm reaches the mature stageThis is the most violent part of a thunderstorms lifecycle.An anvil at the top usually develops composed of cirrus cloud and ice crystalsThe wispy cirrus anvil is blown flat by the wind on top, usually a good indicator of storm movement.
14 2. Lifecycle of thunderstorms Mature stageAt this point, drops of moisture, whether rain or ice, are too heavy for the cloud to support themThis creates a downward motion airStrong updrafts are still present resulting in windshear and severe turbulence.Lightning is most frequent in the mature stage
15 2. Lifecycle of thunderstorms Dissipating stageUpdrafts then die out leaving only downdraftsRain gradually decreases and the cloud breaks upThe downdrafts spread out and replace the updrafts needed to sustain the stormThe whole lifecycle of the thunderstorm usually lasts around 60 minutes, but could be longer.
16 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms There are many hazards associated with thunderstorms, and for most aircraft should be avoided at all costs.Hazards from thunderstorms are but not limited to:Severe turbulenceIcingLightningHailSqualls and gustsWind shearMicroburstsTornadoesDust storms
17 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms TurbulenceTurbulence can be classified according to how the aircraft behaves and occupant comfort.Light turbulence - briefly causes slight, erratic changes in altitude and/or attitude.Light chop - slight, rapid and somewhat rhythmic bumpiness without noticeable changes in altitude or attitude.Moderate turbulence - similar to light turbulence, but greater intensity. Changes in altitude/attitude occur. Aircraft remains in control at all times. Variations in indicated air speed.Moderate chop - similar to light chop, but greater intensity. Rapid bumps or jolts without obvious changes in altitude or attitude.Severe turbulence - large, abrupt changes in altitude/attitude. Large variation in indicated airspeed. Aircraft may be temporarily out of control.Extreme turbulence - aircraft is violently tossed about and is impossible to control. May cause structural damage.
18 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms TurbulenceWithin or near a thunderstorm an occupant can expect to encounter severe turbulence.It is sometimes so severe that accurate control of a light aircraft could be near impossible.Heavy structural loads are placed on the airframe and in extreme cases airframe damage and injury to occupants can occur.
19 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms LightningLightning is simply a gigantic electrical spark which flows along the pathway of ionised air.Sometimes the airframe can act as a pathway to the lightningThe lightning enters at one point, flows through and exits at another pointDespite being a gigantic electrical spark, lightning poses no immediate risk to the occupants since they do not form any part of the pathwayLightning can pose a fire hazard and cause damage to the aircraft electrical system.
20 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms HailHail can be encountered in clear air, both beneath and beside the thunderstorm cell.Even though hail encounters are short lived, they can pose a real risk of damage to the aircraft.Hail is most commonly encountered between and 20000ft near the middle of the storm.
21 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms Squalls and gustsA squall or gust is a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed.Local and short lived bursts of strong wind can produce severe low level turbulenceThe sudden onset of gusting wind can make approach and landing difficult or impossible, especially when it is a gusting crosswind.
22 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms WindshearWindshear is the sudden change of wind speed at different heightsWindshear can cause a sudden loss of lift and IAS for aircraftAt low level on approach to landing windshear can be disastrous if not detected.
23 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms MicroburstsApart from the main downdrafts within a cell, many storms feature areas of localised intense downdraft activityThese areas are known as microburstsMicrobursts are known to be fatal and have been the cause of many air disasters involving large passenger jets.
24 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms TornadoesTornadoes always result from very unstable atmospheric conditionsTornadoes first appear as a funnel shaped cloud which extends from the base of a cumulonimbus cloudOnce it reaches the ground it generates rotating winds of up to 500kmph over a very narrow pathThis extreme low pressure can cause the air inside buildings to explode damaging walls ceilings and anything else in its path
25 3. Hazards associated with thunderstorms DuststormsWhen the air is unstable but too dry to form extensive cloud, a dust storm might developAs convection occurs in the lower atmosphere, dust from the dry surface is lifted with it.Unlike a thunderstorm, a duststorm can have a very widespread area, severely reducing visibility.
26 4. Ice formationIceWhen ice cubes are made, the liquid water freezes when the temperature drops to below 0.To allow water to freeze, latent heat must be released from the water to the environment.When water exists as tiny droplets in the atmosphere, the exchange of latent heat is much less efficient and freezing does not occur until the temperature is well below zero.Depending on their size, water droplets suspended in a cloud can remain liquid at temperatures as low as -40.The smaller the droplet, the lower the temperature required to cause it to freeze.Water that is in its liquid form, but below freezing is called supercooled water.
27 4. Ice formationIceAny disturbance to the supercooled water will cause it to lose its latent heat and freeze.Any aircraft flying above the freezing layer in cloud will cause the necessary disturbance, and since the airframe is also below zero, the supercooled water will freeze on impact, causing ice.
28 5. Icing typesIceThere are different types of airframe icing according to the temperatures and appearance of the ice. They are:Clear iceRime iceHoar frost
29 5. Icing typesRime IceWhen very cold, supercooled water droplets collide with leading edges, they freeze so quickly they do not have time to splash or spread across the surface.This type of icing is known as Rime iceThe ice maintains its spherical shape after freezing producing a granular layer of ice with a lot of air trapped between the grains.The ice formed is white and brittle.
30 5. Icing typesClear IceLarge supercooled water droplets are found at warmer temperaturesThese temperatures are still sub-zeroBecause the larger supercooled water droplets are not so cold, they tend to have more latent heat to lose and take longer to freeze.The supercooled water droplets tend to splash and spread further along the leading edge before freezing.This process can continue and can form several layers of iceThere is not as much air trapped between the layers so therefore tends to be heavier and stronger than rime ice.
31 5. Icing types Conditions necessary for formation Sub-Zero temperaturesIf the airframe of the aircraft is above zero degrees, the ice will simply melt.Supercooled dropletsLiquid water must be present in the sub zero temperature range. If the water was in ice form already, it would not stick to the aircraftDroplet sizeIf the supercooled droplets are very small, rime ice is likelyIf the supercooled droplets are large, clear ice is likely
32 5. Icing types Conditions necessary for formation The temperature ranges favourable for the formation of ice are shown below. It is important to know that it is not only the temperature of the droplets that determine what type of ice is likely, it is also the size of the droplet.From 0°C to -15°C, in the presence of large supercooled water droplets, clear ice is likely.From -10°C to -30°C, in the presence of small supercooled water droplets, rime ice is likely
33 5. Icing types Freezing Rain It is not always necessary to be in cloud for ice to formIf you are flying above the freezing layer but below a cloud base in supercooled rain drops, a rapid build up of severe clear ice could be likely.
34 5. Icing types Pilot actions if icing is encountered If you are flying VFR and encounter icing, the easiest thing to do is descend below the freezing layer.But if you are flying VFR, it would pose the question what are you doing flying in visible moisture above the freezing layer?For IFR aircraft, flying in icing conditions can be a routine occurrence.If you are unequipped with de-icing or anti icing equipment it would be necessary to fly below the freezing layer (if you are in visible moisture)Sometimes IFR aircraft cannot descend below the freezing layer therefore it would be necessary to operate de-icing or anti icing equipment.
35 5. Icing types Frost Frost is simply frozen dew It forms on the top surfaces of aircraft left out overnight.If it is not removed it can disrupt the airflow over the wings and cause a significant decrease in aerodynamic performance.In extreme cases it might make it impossible for the aircraft to leave the ground at all.Frost may go un-noticed on some high wing aircraft if the pilot does not physically look above the wingIf sub-zero temperatures have occurred overnight, special attention needs to be given for looking for frost.If found, frost can be removed by washing with water.It would be necessary to remove frost before flight.
37 5. Icing typesHoar FrostWhen an aircraft has been cruising at high altitude for a period of time, the airframe will cool to the same temperature as the surroundingsThis condition is known as “cold soaking” and may take a while for the airframe to warm up again.If a cold-soaked aircraft on descent encounters a layer of warmer humid air, water vapour may skip the liquid state and turn straight to ice.This process is called deposition, and the resulting layer of ice is called hoar frost.It is a white crystalline deposit
38 5. Icing typesHoar FrostHoar frost has little effect on aircraft performance.The frost will disappear once the aircraft warms, but if the subzero temperatures persisted down to ground level, the heater/demister may be required to see through the windscreen.