Weather satellites to deliver better data
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Apr 06, 2000
Better weather forecasts may be on the way, but it's a long-term outlook.
A tri-agency program office led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration is preparing to test new weather satellite technology in
fiscal 2005 to help improve forecasts.
NASA plans to launch a satellite that will test three new technologies that
will help monitor the biology of the ocean, study how much of the sun's
energy is absorbed or reflected by the Earth, and collect additional temperature
and humidity data.
The enhanced capabilities, in combination with better numerical models that
process the data, should improve the accuracy of the current three- to five-day
weather forecasts from around 80 percent to better than 90 percent, said
Ghassem Asrar, associate administrator for Earth sciences at NASA, at a
briefing Wednesday. In addition, it should extend the current three- to
five-day forecasts out to seven to 10 days, he said.
Satellite data makes up 84 percent of the information that flows into numerical
models, which are the basis for making weather forecasts.
In 1994, President Clinton merged the military and civilian polar-orbiting
weather satellite programs, creating the National Polar-orbiting Operational
Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). NOAA, NASA and the Defense Department
formed a NPOESS Integrated Program Office to manage the new merged program.
The first converged weather satellite is expected to be available for launch
toward the end of fiscal 2008.