Schiphol: hotspot for climate change. How can Schiphol prepare itself for what is coming?
Climate change is causing increasingly extreme weather conditions. Heavy rain and strong gusts of wind make it even more important for Schiphol to provide more accurate weather forecasts. Accurate forecasting is particularly important in relation to runway allocation and handling starts and landings. The Dutch Knowledge for Climate Research Programme studied how we can make the Netherlands more weather-proof. Schiphol was one of eight interesting hotspots in this respect.
Putting our heads together
Schiphol Nederland B.V. (SNBV) and Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL), in conjunction with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and Wageningen University Research Centre (WUR), studied how Schiphol can prepare itself for the climate of the future. The number of flight movements, current weather conditions and noise pollution all played a role here. It resulted in three sub-studies.
- Windvision (HSMS01)
The first sub-study started with PhD research into new methods and instruments for measuring the wind. Project leader Peter van den Brink: “Aircraft are very susceptible to the wind. Using the results of the study we developed and tested a prototype for a new instrument. This enables us to measure the crosswind and visibility in the aircraft’s flightpath from an altitude of 300 metres down to ground level. Air traffic control can use this information to guide the aircraft better on arrival or departure.”
2. Climatology and climate scenarios (HSMS02)
Only Schiphol Airport participated in this brief study. The KNMI developed a number of scenarios for the potentially changing climate. The effects on important weather parameters for the airport played a major role here. The results are chiefly meant as input for the third project ‘The impact of climate change’.
3. The impact of climate change (HSMS03)
Climate and weather data are required for the proper functioning of the organisation and infrastructure at Schiphol. Van den Brink: “In this sub-study we inventoried the main weather parameters for day-to-day operations at Schiphol. This includes types of precipitation, such as rain, freezing rain or snow. These parameters were included in the development of HARMONIE. This is a new weather model developed by the KNMI as part of a European alliance. HARMONIE will ultimately lead to an improved operational system for the KNMI.” Van den Brink: “The new system allows us to make much more accurate weather forecasts. This gives us a better grip on the climate. Air traffic control can then see what the local weather conditions will be almost for each individual runway.”
How does this work for Schiphol in practice?
A practical example is working with preferred runways. Van den Brink: “Runways which cause the least noise pollution are of course the preferred option. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to use these runways due to disruption, maintenance or weather conditions. This is why it is essential that air traffic control be given accurate and reliable weather information in good time. We can predict the weather more accurately using the new system. This will ultimately allow us to make longer use of the preferred runways. And this will cause less nuisance to the surrounding area.”