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Christmas to Come Early for Meteorologists - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Christmas to Come Early for Meteorologists

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It can be expensive to shop for meteorologists during the holiday season. New instruments and techniques to provide a more accurate forecast are always on the top of our list. Those items carry a pretty hefty price tag. This year Christmas will come early for meteorologists with the launch of a new polar-orbiting satellite, JPSS-1.

Credit: NOAA

You may recall seeing satellite imagery during our forecasts on LEX 18. But did you know data from these satellite are also helping meteorologists provide earlier warnings and more accurate forecasts? Polar-orbiting satellite help us do both.

You may be familiar with the term "geostationary weather satellite." Last year the GOES-16 satellite, a geostationary satellite, was launched and it was a game-changer for monitoring hurricanes, wildfires, lightning, and tornadic thunderstorms. These geostationary weather satellites move with the Earth during it's orbit around the sun and look at one location on Earth.

Meanwhile, polar-orbiting satellites orbit at a lower altitude and don't continuously monitor the same location. These types of satellites orbit from pole to pole, monitoring current weather conditions around the globe. Measurements of the Earth's atmosphere, land, and ocean are taken plus data used in weather forecast is collected.

Credit: UCAR/NASA/NOAA

The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) was developed through a partnership between NASA and NOAA. JPSS-1 is the first in a series of four next-generation, polar-orbiting satellites. NASA said in a press release,

         "the satellite will pass over the equator about 14 times each day, covering the globe twice every 24 hours. As it works, JPSS-1 will gather measurements at atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic conditions, including sea and land surface temperatures, vegetation, clouds, rainfall, snow and ice cover, fire locations, atmospheric temperature, water vapor and ozone...With these varied observations, JPSS will give environmental experts more accurate warnings in advance of hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. During its planned 10-years in orbit, JPSS-1 also will aid in assessing hazards such as droughts, forest fires, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters."

Five advanced instruments will help the JPSS suite monitor the Earth's atmosphere, land and ocean. The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) and Cross-Track Infrared sound (CrIS) will collect the atmospheric temperature and moisture for operational weather and climate applications. The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) along with the Radiation Budget Instrument will monitor reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth. The health of the ozone layer and the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere will be monitored by the Ozone Mapping and Profiles Suite (OMPS). And finally, Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) will provide visible and infrared imagery.

Credit: NOAA

The launch of JPSS-1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been delayed due to weather conditions. The team is currently assessing a new launch date. Once JPSS-1 reaches orbit, it will be known as NOAA-20. Three more next-generation, polar-orbiting satellites are set to be launched in the future.

- Meteorologist Jill Szwed

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