The Commander of the Integrated Center for Aeronautical Meteorology (CIMAER), Lieutenant Colonel José Eduardo Gonçalves Platenik, is our interviewee in this third article in the series celebrating Meteorology Week at IACIT. He talks about CIMAER’s weather surveillance and forecasting work and the importance of aeronautical meteorology for flight safety and efficiency.
Created in 2019 by the Department of Airspace Control (DECEA), CIMAER is responsible for the nationwide aviation weather forecasting service, which includes the country’s coastal waters. Its mission is to contribute to the safety, economy and efficiency of air traffic.
Air Force Meteorological Specialist Lieutenant Colonel Platenik illustrates CIMAER’s success by highlighting the flight safety indicators reported by international audits in Brazil.
“Our safety rating is above 90%, reflecting investment, training and a set of systems maintained by DECEA. And we can say that meteorology is a major contributor to this success”, says the Commander, who has been in charge of CIMAER since February 2021.
The aim of Meteorology Week at IACIT is to highlight the importance of meteorology and how technological advances in this area affect human activities and help protect lives. The first article in the series presented data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and traced the evolution of meteorology, while the second looked at advances in natural disaster monitoring and the challenges faced by the National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN).
We invite you to read the interview given by Colonel Platenik below.
IACIT: Commander, tell us a little about the creation of CIMAER, its mission and main activities.
Coronel Platenik: CIMAER is responsible for aeronautical forecasting and surveillance services over Brazil’s 22 million sq km of territory and airspace. Following a trend within the Brazilian air force, the Center was created by Air Force Command to optimize human resources and streamline meteorological services. CIMAER merged various class 1 meteorological centers, the National Aeronautical Meteorology Center, and the Meteorological Surveillance Center, eliminating duplication across services. Technology and training played an essential role in the centralization of services.
IACIT: Can you explain what surveillance and forecasting services are?
Colonel Platenik: There is the aerodrome forecast messaging service. It is a very important service because, apart from current conditions, pilots need to know the expected conditions when he arrives at the destination, after a two or three-hour flight.
Weather surveillance monitors changes in atmospheric conditions. Our trained professionals are constantly observing developments so they can immediately inform the pilot of any potentially hazardous weather. The information is sent using the VOLMET radio frequency, which is exclusively used to provide weather information to pilots, or by message. This service is integrated with air traffic control.
Our forecasts and charts are made available to the public so that the whole of society can use them, not just aviation professionals. We also have a database that can be used for research and to download articles. It’s our contribution to society. We often joke that if you know how to interpret the messages they can be used to plan the weekend barbecue.
IACIT: What are the main challenges facing CIMAER staff?
Colonel Platenik: You could say that we have two different jobs. Routine tasks, such as producing and publishing wind charts, messages and forecasts, for example, and the daily challenge of monitoring changes in the weather. These changes require immediate action. For example, if a region of the country is being affected by adverse weather phenomena, such as a cold front causing thunderstorms in the south of the country, then the demand for information for pilots, briefings, and from other organizations and authorities that use our daily forecasts is particularly high. Our team of forecasters must be prepared to meet all demands from anywhere around the country. This is a major challenge, especially in a country of continental proportions and different types of climate like Brazil. And you can be sure that the way forecasters monitor atmospheric phenomena in the part of the country that lies to north of the equator is quite different to the way they monitor them in the subtropical south. The meteorologist must have the expertise to use the appropriate forecasting technique for each region of the country.
IACIT: What is your assessment of technological advances and the evolution of this science over recent decades?
Colonel Platenik: In the past, when we didn’t have computers with the capacity to deal with forecast equations, forecasting was based very much on conceptual models. We had data, we understood the physical dynamics of the atmosphere, but we didn’t have the computing power to process the equations. Predictions were made largely based on conceptual models and the feeling of each professional.
Technological advances have provided the solution to forecast equations and today we have systems that provide accurate predictions. Of course, the meteorologist always performs the analysis and has the final word. These advances have enabled us to provide much more reliable forecasts to inform decision-making. With regard to airlines, besides flight safety, meteorology also helps improve fuel economy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which is also a major concern of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
IACIT: How does CIMAER collect forecasting and surveillance data?
Colonel Platenik: We have a network of ground-based weather stations, high-altitude stations, and weather radars around the country. CIMAER uses the data produced by these facilities, but to do so we need to have the right technology to be able to integrate the data and perform analyses. Today, to perform a forecast a meteorologist not only analyzes data but also performs a computational analysis using numerical weather prediction models. We use a range of tools to make and issue forecasts through our communication channels.
IACIT: Has Brazil’s Air Force been keeping up-to-date with technological developments in the field of meteorology?
Colonel Platenik: The importance of meteorology in aviation is so great that DECEA is always investing in new technology and on the lookout for the best solutions. This is because we know that this is the only way to provide an effective response and ensure the safety of flying. IACIT has been an important partner of CIMAER in developing solutions.
IACIT: What is your assessment of efforts to advance meteorology in Brazil?
Colonel Platenik: Meteorology system solutions are the product of research that seeks to understand the differences in weather systems across the different regions of a particular country. We need to step up efforts to develop solutions. We can move forward and we have the conditions necessary to make significant progress. CIMAER is one among a number of meteorology and weather forecasting centers in Brazil working in this direction, including the Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies (CPTEC), National Institute of Meteorology (INMET) and National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN). We make a major effort to eliminate duplication and focus more on solution systems, training and optimizing investment.
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