JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Weather forecasts are about to get much more accurate with the launch of a new satellite that will fly around the planet every 100 minutes.
The first step in predicting the weather must include accurate observations of current weather conditions.
A new polar-orbiting weather satellite launched by a European group of scientists will collect data that will feed forecast models.
It will look beyond just clouds and measure temperature, wind, pressure, humidity, and land and sea surface conditions that we use to generate more accurate local forecasts and warnings.
These satellite observations have dramatically improved the ability to predict the track of major storms or how much it will rain or snow.
In the United States, about 85 percent of the atmospheric data that goes into weather prediction models comes from polar-orbiting satellites such as NOAA-20 and EUMETSAT’s Metop satellites.
Twenty years ago, our confidence in the forecast extended out to only two days. Thanks to our robust network of polar satellites and improvements in numerical weather prediction, we can now predict the weather 3 to 7 days in advance with the same level of confidence.
Polar orbiting satellites are different from the recently launched GOES 16-17 geostationary spacecraft that stay fixed in position above the planet.
Polar orbiting satellites can collect more detailed pictures of humidity and temperature at different heights compared to geostationary satellites that must stay around 23,500 miles above Earth.
NOAA supplied four of the thirteen instruments that will be flying on Metop-C as part of a joint effort between EUMETSAT, the European Space Agency, and NASA.
NOAA's two microwave radiometers will measure global atmospheric temperature and humidity, as well as sea ice.
A visible/infrared radiometer called AVHRR will deliver global visible and infrared imagery of clouds, oceans, ice, and land surfaces.
A fourth instrument, the Space Environment Monitor (SEM), will monitor the space plasma and radiation environment around the spacecraft.