Overall the MAP SOP was very successful. We deem this good success based on the following factors:
As outlined in the article "The `MAP-SOP MAN'" by Reinhold Steinacker the weather offered a large number of weather phenomena favourable to the eight MAP projects. Apart from this statistical viewpoint, the weather events also occurred in a very advantageous sequence, as can bee seen in Overview of IOP (lightest shading) and project days for individual project. The table shows project days, defined by deployment of major observing facilities, with (dark shading) and without (light shading) project-specific aircraft deployment. The first week of the SOP was very calm. Thus time was left to finalize installations, to test the equipment and to check communication lines and procedures. Also, operations at the centres in Innsbruck and Milano had time to get started and find a smooth way of running. Shortly afterwards a sequence of weather events started that offered measuring opportunities to almost all projects during IOP1 to IOP5. Then, four weeks into the experiment, an autumnal high pressure system over the continent forced a break in the intensely running field activities, with what truly was perfect timing ! Field crews had time for a recreation phase, while there was enough time for the Scientific and Operations Directors in Innsbruck and Milano to change shift at that time, and to get started with their tasks. Culmination of this fair weather period was Saturday 9 October 1999, a splendid sunny day and the only hard down day for the entire project, with no activities at all, not even a MAP forecast. Finally, the last four weeks of the experiment brought us back to business and we were very busy until the last day of the SOP.
Table 1 Overview of IOP (lightest shading) and project days for individual project. The table shows project days, defined by deployment of major observ-ing facilities, with (dark shading) and without (light shading) project-specific aircraft deployment.
Full advantage of favourable weather can only be taken if:
Figure 1 shows that nearly all projects were able to use the allocated flight hours (right bars). The relatively low percentage for P7 is due to the fact that P7 had a low number of favourable waether events, but those which occurred were good cases. The bars in the middle put the aircraft resources used in proportion to the largest project P1 on heavy precipitation. Finally, the left bars give the relative numbers of days of the 70 SOP days on which each individual project had operations. The heavy precipitation project conducted the most IOP days, followed by the gap flow and Foehn in the Rhine Valley.
The additional radio sounding resources contributed by the National Weather Services, the Swiss Army, and other research institutions, were entirely used, finishing on the last day of the SOP. This means 30 days with generally four ascents per day, three days of which were increased to eight ascents per day. With a rough total of 6'800 launched sondes as opposed to the routinely deployed roughly 2'800, the number of soundings during the SOP was more than doubled. Table 2 shows a few more significant numbers with respect to radars, lidars and last but not least the METEOSAT rapid scanning exercise.
From this one may conclude, that in spite of occasional competition between projects, the missions were managed in such a way, that in the overall experiment every project was well served and able to make use of its allocated resources.
Figure 1. IOP activities, aircraft and radio sonde resource usage. Relative usage in % of the allocated resources (right column), absolute usage in % of the Heavy Precipitation project P1 (middle column). The left columns show the number of days on which a major facility has been deployed for a project (in % of the total 42 IOP days).
The facility status coordinators at MOC were supported by two student assistants, normally working on fortnight shifts. These teams were responsible for, following the decisions of the Mission Selection Team (MST), issuing the countless pre-alerts, alerts and notifications in preparation of the IOPs. In the course of the SOP many useful tools were developed to facilitate this task and to accomplish an effective reporting of the facility status and of the available resources. We are very grateful to the student assistants for their enthusiastic support.
Table 2 Overview on the deployment of some major facilities during the SOP.
Under the skilful leadership of Peter Parson the international rotating team of bench forecasters did a marvellous job. The equipment of the forecast office was unique in the sense that it disposed of real-time products from many European weather services. The output of four operational NWP model chains were available in real time, namely the following:
In addition, an unprecedented variety of real-time observations was transmitted to the MOC, including the Alpine radar composite featuring northern Italian radars, and the European windprofiler network data.
It is to be emphasized that all these data and products were channelled through the MAP Network Centre (MNC), the real-time component of the MAP Data Centre (MDC). The MNC was also the node interconnecting the three Operations Centres in Innsbruck, Milano-Linate, and Bad Ragaz. In all of this the MDC/MNC manager Hans Hirter truly did an outstanding job in setting up and running the MNC. His specific knowlegde acquired at the MDC during the four years of Phase I, the Preparation Phase of MAP, turned out to be absolutely crucial, and well reflects the important investment of the EUMETNET programme MAP-NWS in financing the MDC.
Herbert Pümpel and Heinz Finkenzeller did an excellent job in negotiating approvals for the "exotic" research flight patterns with the several Air Traffic Control (ATC) centres around the Alps. Although these research mission flight tracks were quite unusual to the ATC and sometimes conflicting with the heavy air traffic in our "target regions", we received an excellent service. Only on very rare occasions compromises had to be accepted. Particularly noteworthy is the outstanding work done by Jim Moore and José Meitín at the Milano air traffic control centre for flight in the crowded Malpensa airspace. Special tribute is also given to the cooperation of the Milano ATC staff. (see also See POC Milano: a critical analysis of SOP operations.).
The daily planning process prepared in many discussions ahead of the SOP and described in the MAP Implementation Plan turned out to work well. The MST with four rotating leading scientists, and the Scientific and Operations Directors was an appropriate body to take the decisions on the missions to be conducted. Even in sometimes delicate situations, that gave rise to intense and extended discussions, an overall accepted solution could be found.
The limited means of voice communication with the POC didn't help the plenary weather briefing and the MST decision making, indeed turned it sometimes into a challenge. This issue would have merited more attention before the start of the experiment. On an individual level, however, exchange with the POC was excellent. On the other hand, a tighter link with the COC would have been desirable. However, linking three centres over telephone lines was not attempted, given the difficulties encountered. But again, personal contacts with the COC were without problems.
From the organizational point of view, MAP was certainly at the limit of complexity of what can be handled by a community as ours: three operations centres, eight aircraft, three target areas heavily equipped with ground-based instrumentation, a large number of groups operating in the field, and a wealth of data connections to the operational world of weather services. Telecommunication is a crucial element in such an undertaking, for data as well as for human interaction. Thus it is not surprising that most disturbances were created along these lines; they were the weakest part in the overall set-up of the MAP SOP. More attention must be paid to these aspects in the preparation of future such experiments.
Initially, MAP had been designed as a programme to improve our skills in weather forecasting. Daily mission planning activities documented further the need for such improvements: On one hand the 48-hour forecast range of the high-resolution NWP models was sometimes felt to be too short for strategic mission planning (can we shift a given project to the third day or do we have to take the opportunity tomorrow ?), on the other hand on occasions the weather forecast failed for the second day already. Thus the experiment itself proved to be useful and necessary and the wealth of data collected will certainly serve the predefined goals: to improve weather forecasting in mountainous terrain!
Finally, we wish to express a big "Thank you!" to the hosts of the MOC in Innsbruck, the POC in Milano-Linate, and the COC in Bad Ragaz. As to the Operations Directors and the Facility Status Coordinators, we were warmly received and felt to be welcome throughout our stay. Certainly this was true at the POC and the COC, too. A special and explicit thanks goes to Herbert Pümpel, Peter Parson and Harald Schellander at the MOC, Pino Frustaci and his collaborators at the POC, and Hans Richner, Christian Häberli, and Stefan Gubser at the COC, for their ceaseless efforts to keep the MAP OCs on track and satisfy many special requests !