ESRL Global Systems Division


The MAP Section manages GSD’s work on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). This work is conducted with development partners such as the National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorological Development Laboratory (MDL) and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

About NextGen

U.S. air traffic is predicted to increase two to three times by 2025 and today’s air traffic control system will not be able to manage this growth.  NextGen is the solution.  NextGen is an example of active networking technology that updates itself with real-time shared information and tailors itself to the individual needs of all U.S. aircraft. NextGen's computerized air transportation network stresses adaptability by enabling aircraft to immediately adjust to ever-changing factors such as: weather, traffic congestion, aircraft position via GPS, flight trajectory patterns, and security issues.  By 2025, all aircraft and airports in U.S. airspace will be connected to the NextGen network and will continually share information in real time to improve efficiency, safety, and absorb the predicted increase in air transportation.

NextGen was enacted in 2003 by Congress under VISION 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176).  The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) is responsible for managing a public/private partnership to bring NextGen online by 2025. Participating organizations include Departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, FAA, NASA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

GSD’s primary goal for NextGen is to conduct R&D (and follow-up demonstrations) to help the NWS build the Weather Information Database (WIDB). The WIDB will include the Single Authoritative Source (SAS), the weather information that FAA Air Traffic Management will use. GSD will help the NWS to develop tools that will enable the NWS to generate human-assisted and automated forecasts that are highly-accurate, fully consistent, and tailored for risk-based decisions.

Tasks include:

  • NWS forecasting process.  Develop concepts and tools that consolidate forecasts and ensure that forecasts are meteorologically-consistent spatially, temporally, and across variables.  Explore integrating MITL/MOTL tools into the forecast process.
  • Weather element generator:  Develop a post-processing process that includes observation-based statistical bias correction, blended nowcasts and forecasts, and optimal weighting for ensemble-based probabilistic forecasts.
  • Verification:  Conduct R&D for verifying forecasts and ensure that those forecasts are optimized to support specific Air Traffic Management (ATM) operations.  Enhance capabilities of GSD’s Network-enabled Verification Service (NEVS) to verify forecasts.
  • Single Authoritative Source (SAS):  Develop concepts and build initial “path-finder” capability that will facilitate development of the SAS as requirements are defined.
  • Develop an initial network-enabled WIDB that will synthesize important NWS data repositories into a seamless virtual weather database that will support the CWP.  The WIDB will be based on standard services and formats that will enable effective and efficient populating of the WIDB, exposure of information, and access to users.
  • Develop capability for NWS IT infrastructure to effectively and efficiently interface with FAA IT infrastructure

The following is a functional graphic of the NextGen weather enterprise showing (in gold) the areas of the NextGen weather enterprise that GSD is working on:

GSD Support for NextGen Weather Image