Runway Wake Vortex, Crosswind, and Visibility Detection with a Scintillometer at Schiphol Airport

D. van Dinther, O.K. Hartogensis*, A.A.M. Holtslag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We evaluate the performance and investigate the capability of a scintillometer to detect wake vortices, crosswind and visibility near an airport runway. An experiment is carried out at Schiphol airport (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), where an optical scintillometer is positioned alongside a runway. An algorithm is developed to detect wake vortices, and also the strength of the wake vortex, from the variance in the scintillation signal. The algorithm shows promising results in detecting wake vortices and their strengths during the night. During the day, the scintillometer signal is dominated by environmental turbulence and wake vortices are no longer detectable. The crosswind measured by the scintillometer is compared with wind-speed and wind-direction data at the airport. Our results show that, after applying an outlier filter, the scintillometer is able to measure the crosswind over the short time period of 3 s required for aviation applications. The outlier filter does not compromise the capability of the scintillometer to obtain the maximum 3 s crosswind over a 10-min time frame correctly. Finally, a transmission method is used to obtain the visibility from the scintillometer signal, which is then compared with that obtained from a visibility sensor. The scintillometer is able to identify periods of low visibility correctly, although it shows a high amount of scatter around the exact visibility value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-499
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Airport
  • Crosswind
  • Scintillometry
  • Transverse wind
  • Visibility
  • Wake vortices


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