DIBMETSAT-3D - 3D Based Digital Image Processing for Met-Services for Air Traffic Management

Digital image processing analyses, supplements and extracts information from meteorology and subsequently supports its task with regard to Air Traffic Management (ATM). It is based on the findings of the 2D image analysis in meteorology as these are extended to 3D image processing algorithms. Additionally, this requires that not only the 2D-maximum projected weather radar image series are used as the starting point, but also that the volumetric data in combination with digital terrain models are used as a data source.

Short Description


The Air Traffic Management System uses analytics and weather forecasts for air traffic navigation through to tactical planning. More precise forecasts allow for more accurate planning and contribute to making better use of existing airspace and airport capacities. Improved weather radar information increases the safety level and enhances the detection accuracy of significant weather phenomena such as thunderstorms in summer, but also freezing rain, as well as aviation-related hazards such as icing zones. The exact three-dimensional detection of the significant phenomena helps ATM to plan their procedures more accurately and thus to minimize delays. Fewer delays also mean fewer holdings and thus lower pollutant emissions.


  • To automate weather observation messages.
  • To 3D correct interferance signals and coverage gaps in weather radar.
  • Camera-based measurements - 3D analysis.
  • 3D-based structure recognition in the weather radar.


By means of weather radar, a three-dimensional assessment and prediction of the precipitation, the risk of icing, the thunderstorm extent, intensity and development can be carried out; then the associated influences and risks to aviation, such as hail, wind shear and turbulence due to gust fronts, downwind, etc., can be extrapolated. An elevation is recorded completely with each 360° rotation of the antenna, and 16 elevations are scanned in total. This means that, per radar location, data is available in a radius of about 224km to a height of 16km, resulting in a 3D coverage of 824x648x16km.


The first promising tests in the ongoing DIBMETSAT project use 2D weather radar data as well as the MSG satellite data to generate a corrected weather radar image (maxCAPPI projection). 3D products (such as volCAPPI) are necessary for the entire available airspace - including the upper airspace - and for detailed analysis. In addition to the methods for improving and analysing the weather radar and meteorology satellite images, local weather observations (visibility, cloud coverage) are also carried out by using cameras available on the market and appropriate algorithms. Based on the results at airports of the current DIBMETSAT project, further improvements are to be achieved through 3D implementation.

Expected results

Disturbance detection is augmented by the vertical dimension, so these disturbances can be corrected directly in the underlying 3D volume data. Moreover, the 3D data renders structure recognition possible, such as detecting and taking into account suspected storm cells or typical mesoscale hazard patterns.
Camera-based methods provide readings based on topography data (especially digital elevation models). The measurement results are provided in the standard METAR code used in air traffic.
Alternatively, thermal cameras should also be included in camera-based measurements. In this case, the corresponding height values are derived from the determined temperature profile.


With the help of digital elevation models (DEMs) and GIS data, camera-based measurements of visibility and coverage information could be performed outside the defined environment of an airport. Thermal cameras were also used as an alternative to standard cameras. The corresponding altitude values were derived from the determined cloud temperature and associated vertical profiles from models and measurements. 

The 2D methods developed in the predecessor project, DIBMETSAT, were combined with the 3D methods and adapted to the MET system architecture of our partners, ACG and MSV. Thus, a semi-operational analysis system to improve short-term forecasts in meteorology is now available.

Aviation Forum Austria 2016: DIBMETSAT-3D


Project Partners

Funding program: TAKE OFF