With the change of seasons comes increased risk of severe weather. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide early warning of spring hazards.Feature story
How satellite data becomes stunning views of Earth.Feature story
Explore the factors that drive weather and climate.Download Poster
The latest GOES-R Series Quarterly Newsletter is now available for download.Download All Newsletters
Explore a GOES-R Series satellite in this interactive model with augmented reality features.
GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide better wind data
for improved forecasting tools.
The stunning, colorful imagery you see from GOES-16 and GOES-17 isn’t just beautiful to look at, it also provides critical information to forecasters.Feature Story
NOAA's latest generation of geostationary weather satellites
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) – R Series is the nation’s most advanced fleet of geostationary weather satellites. The GOES-R Series significantly improves the detection and observation of environmental phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property and our nation’s economic health and prosperity.
The satellites provide advanced imaging with increased spatial resolution and faster coverage for more accurate forecasts, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.
The GOES-R Series is a four-satellite program (GOES-R/S/T/U) that will extend the availability of the operational GOES satellite system through 2036.
Remote environmental sensing is only part of the GOES-R Series mission. The satellites also provide unique capabilities to relay data directly to users to meet critical needs
DCS is a satellite relay system used to collect information from Earth-based data collection platforms that transmit in-situ environmental sensor data from more than 20,000 platforms across the hemisphere.
GOES Rebroadcast provides the primary relay of full resolution, calibrated, near-real-time direct broadcast space relay of Level 1b data from each instrument and Level 2 data from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). GRB replaces the GOES VARiable (GVAR) service
The Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN) is a direct service that provides users with weather forecasts, warnings, graphics and other information directly from the National Weather Service (NWS) in near real-time. The HRIT service is a new high data rate (400 Kpbs) version of the previous LRIT (Low Rate Information Transmission), broadcasting GOES-R Series satellite imagery and selected products to remotely-located user terminals.
The SARSAT system detects and locates mariners, aviators and other recreational users in distress. The GOES-R Series continues the legacy function of the SARSAT system on board NOAA’s GOES satellites. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft, vessels and from handheld personal locator beacons. The GOES-R Series SARSAT transponder operates with a lower uplink power than the current system (32 bBm), enabling GOES-R Series satellites to detect weaker beacon signals.
The GOES-R series spacecraft bus is three-axis stabilized and designed for 10 years of on-orbit operation preceded by up to five years of on-orbit storage. The spacecraft carries three classifications of instruments: nadir-pointing, solar-pointing, and in-situ. Visit the Spacecraft page of this site for more information.
Explore the GOES-R Series spacecraft: Use the quick view buttons above to swap the views of the spacecraft, launch the spacecraft 3d model using the button below, watch the video below and use the Spacecraft & Instruments links below.
A fly by in space of GOES-R. Note: there is no audio, therefore no closed captions.
The most recent images of Earth's western hemisphere from the GOES constellation .
Environmental satellites provide data in several different formats. The most commonly used channels on weather satellites are the visible, infrared, and water vapor.
Visible satellite images, which look like black and white photographs, are derived from the satellite’s signals. Clouds usually appear white, while land and water surfaces appear in shades of gray or black. The visible channel reflects solar radiation. Clouds, the Earth's atmosphere, and the Earth's surface all absorb and reflect incoming solar radiation. Since visible imagery is produced by reflected sunlight (radiation), it is only available during daylight.
In the infrared (IR) channel, the satellite senses energy as heat. The Earth’s surface absorbs about half of the incoming solar energy. Clouds and the atmosphere absorb a much smaller amount. The Earth’s surface, clouds, and the atmosphere then re-emit part of this absorbed solar energy as heat. The infrared channel senses this re-emitted radiation. Infrared imagery is useful for determining cloud features both at day and night.
Water vapor imagery is used to analyze the presence and movement of water vapor moisture in the upper and middle levels of the atmosphere. The wavelength spectrum used to detect water vapor is in the 6.7 to 7.3 micrometer wavelength range. The darker regions in water vapor imagery are areas where very little water vapor exists in the middle and upper troposphere, and the lighter regions are very moist. Water vapor imagery is a very valuable tool for weather analysis and prediction because water vapor imagery shows moisture in the atmosphere, not just cloud patterns. This allows meteorologists to observe large-scale circulation patterns even when clouds are not present.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains two primary constellations of environmental satellites: geostationary and polar-orbiting. These satellites are part of NOAA's integrated observing system, which includes satellites, radar, surface automated weather stations, weather balloons, sounders, buoys, instrumented aircraft and other sensors, along with the data management infrastructure needed for this system.
Geostationary satellites orbit 35,800 km (22,300 miles) above Earth's equator at speeds equal to Earth's rotation, which means they maintain their positions and provide continuous coverage. Information from geostationary satellites is used for short-term (1 day) weather forecasting and severe storm warning and tracking.
Polar-orbiting satellites make regular orbits around the Earth’s poles from about 833 km (517 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The Earth constantly rotates counterclockwise underneath the path of the satellite, making for a different view with each orbit. Information from polar-orbiting satellites is used for mid-range (3-7 day) forecasts and advanced warnings of severe weather.
GOES satellites continually view the continental United States, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Central and South America, and Southern Canada. To fully cover Alaska, Hawaii, the entire continental United States and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (for tropical storms), NOAA operates two GOES satellites simultaneously: GOES East and GOES West. GOES East is located at 75.2° W and provides most of the U.S. weather information. GOES West is located at 137.2°W over the Pacific Ocean. In addition to two operational satellites, NOAA also maintains an on-orbit spare.
Since 1975, GOES have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity (space weather). They have even aided in search and rescue of people in distress. GOES data products have led to more accurate and timely weather forecasts and better understanding of long-term climate conditions. NASA builds and launches the satellites and NOAA operates them.
GOES-R launched on November 19, 2016, and was followed by GOES-S on March 1, 2018. GOES-T is scheduled to launch in December 2021, and GOES-U in 2024.
GOES-S, the second satellite in the GOES-R Series, launched on March 1, 2018, at 5:02 p.m. EST at the opening of the two-hour launch window. GOES-S launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket. The satellite was renamed GOES-17 when it reached geostationary orbit on March 12, 2018.
GOES-17 joined its sister satellite, GOES-16, in orbit. The first satellite in the series, GOES-R, launched on November 19, 2016, and became GOES-16 when it reached geostationary orbit. GOES-16 replaced GOES-13 as NOAA’s operational GOES East satellite at 75.2 degrees west longitude on December 18, 2017. GOES-17 became the operational GOES West satellite at 137.2 degrees west longitude on February 12, 2019, replacing GOES-15.
GOES-T is scheduled to launch in December 2021, with GOES-U in 2024.
GOES satellites are placed into a geosynchronous orbit that keeps them over a specific location on the earth. By maintaining a position hovering over a fixed point on Earth's surface, GOES are able to constantly monitor atmospheric conditions in a particular portion of the Earth's atmosphere. Note that non-geosynchronous orbits (for example polar orbits) move over an ever-rotating earth underneath them, therefore seeing a constantly changing view, which has advantages for other types of missions.
GOES-16 became operational as NOAA’s GOES East on December 18, 2017, replacing GOES-13. From its operational location of 75.2 degrees west longitude, GOES-16 is keeping watch over most of North America, including the continental United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west coast of Africa.
GOES-17 replaced GOES-15 as NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite on February 12, 2019. From its operational location of 137.2 degrees west longitude, GOES West is in position to watch over the western continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean all the way to New Zealand.
NOAA powered off GOES-15 on March 2, 2020 and placed it into orbital storage. Since late 2018, GOES-15 has operated in tandem with its advanced, newly launched replacement, GOES-17, as a precaution, while engineers worked on technical issues with the loop heat pipe of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the primary instrument on the satellite. A blockage in the pipe prevented the ABI from cooling properly and hindered its ability to collect data during certain periods and hours of the year. Engineers mitigated the issue through operational changes to the ABI and mission operations, including the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques, to regain capability to collect data during a portion of the affected period. Those efforts have resulted in the GOES-17 ABI delivering 98 percent of expected data. NOAA plans to return the GOES-15 imager to temporary service during the peak period for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones, around August 2020.
On April 1, 1960, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched TIROS-1, the world’s first successful meteorological satellite. Since then, NASA and NOAA have worked together to launch satellites that track clouds, oceans, carbon dioxide, atmospheric ozone and more. The latest generation of satellites, GOES-R and JPSS, monitor lightning flashes, hurricanes, wildfires, sea ice, electric lights, solar activity and so much more! These satellites are significantly enhancing our understanding of the Earth as a whole system. A new story map looks at the value and importance of the nation's weather satellites and game-changing moments in their 60-year history.
The swirling, funnel-shaped winds of a tornado are easily recognizable—and they can be very dangerous. But what causes these unique and violent weather phenomena? A new animated video explains how a tornado forms and also how satellites like GOES-16 help forecasters warn us when severe weather might lead to a tornado. Learn more about tornadoes from our partners at SciJinks.
Spring brings the promise of warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and more people getting outside after being cooped up all winter. Thanks to NOAA satellites, we can see how Earth sheds its winter coat from space this time of year. From melting snow to greening vegetation, signs of spring are becoming apparent. Satellites also monitor the changing weather patterns that come with the transition from winter to spring. The potential for severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, dangerous lightning, and flooding increases in the spring months. According to NOAA’s 2020 Spring Flood and Climate Outlook, released on March 19, much of the country is looking at above-normal precipitation and an enhanced risk of flooding this spring. GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) are equipped to provide detailed information about the atmosphere and clouds in near real-time to help forecasters provide early warnings of hazardous weather.
This year’s vernal equinox is the earliest in 124 Years. The last time the vernal equinox occurred this early was in 1896, so it is the earliest spring anyone alive today has ever experienced—and it will occur even earlier in the future. Why did it occur so early this year? It has to do with leap years. This year, the equinox will occur at 11:49 p.m. EDT, March 19, signifying the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. During the precise moment of the equinox, daytime and nighttime will be nearly equal across the entire planet. From that point on, the Northern Hemisphere will experience earlier sunrises and longer daytimes, and the Southern Hemisphere will experience later sunrises and earlier sunsets.
GOES-16 and GOES-17, also known as GOES-East and GOES-West respectively, provide beautiful images of Earth. However, what you see on your television, computer, and mobile device are digital representations of the data these satellites capture, not actual photographs or videos. A new feature story explains how satellite data is translated into imagery. A lot goes on behind the scenes to create and deliver this colorful imagery, but these enhancements result in more than just a pretty picture. This vivid imagery conveys complex environmental information from large satellite datasets to highlight the presence and evolution of important meteorological phenomena.
Hurricanes are growing more powerful more quickly, according to a study of intensification rates by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and research partners. And these powerful storms cause public health crises that disproportionately impact socioeconomically disadvantaged nations—an instance of “environmental injustice”—described in a Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine co-authored by an NCEI scientist.
Uncovering never-before-seen deep sea coral habitat, applying machine learning to severe weather warnings and fish survey data, and upgrading the U.S. global weather forecast model — these are just a few of NOAA’s scientific achievements in 2019. The newly-released NOAA Science Report highlights the ways these accomplishments — and many more — provide the foundation for vital services that Americans use every day. The report celebrates NOAA’s vital ocean, weather, Great Lakes, and atmospheric research, and how it works to protect lives and property, support a vibrant economy, and strengthen national security. GOES-16 and GOES-17 data contribute to many NOAA science applications.
Students from grades 6-14 are invited to participate in the GOES-R Education Proving Ground GOES-16/17 2020 Virtual Science Fair. Students will use data from the GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites to investigate weather and natural hazards. There will one winning team in each of three categories: middle school, high school and grades 13/14 (community college or university). Each team will consist of 2-4 students and 1 teacher/coach per entry. Entries will be accepted March 1 – May 22, 2020.
Students from the winning teams will receive $25 gift cards and official GOES-T launch viewing invitations to Kennedy Space Center (but no travel support). Teachers coaching the winning teams will garner GOES-T launch invites (no travel support) and conference travel support to attend and present at the 2021 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Centennial meeting in New Orleans.
The NOAA Office of Satellite and Product Operations commenced operational implementation of the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) mode 3 cooling timeline on February 26 to mitigate the number of saturated images resulting from the loop heat pipe (LHP) temperature regulation anomaly. This cooling timeline will remain in effect until March 1. The timeline occurs for 6 hours, centered on spacecraft midnight from 0600 UTC to 1200 UTC each day. In this timeline, the GOES-17 ABI generates a single full disk once per 15 minutes and generates one mesoscale domain sector (MDS) each minute. Alternating MDS domains are collected one time each per two-minute period. The contiguous United States (CONUS) domain is not scanned during the timeline, as those periods are used for cooling.
The same timeline will occur seasonally in operations for four periods each year. Below are the next three full periods, which will repeat each year with minor adjustments based on future GOES-17 ABI thermal models:
Dates for 2021 are yet to be determined, but will be shared prior to January 2021.
NOAA has completed a review of the many responses from two Broad Agency Announcements, or BAAs, seeking fresh ideas for new instrument technologies and concepts for future use on its next-generation geostationary, extended orbit, and polar-orbiting weather satellites. NOAA will begin to distribute directed Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to selected entities this week. RFP notifications will continue on a rolling basis for several weeks. As the proposals are received and evaluated, NOAA will determine which companies will receive contracts to conduct short-term, focused studies intended to advance the agency's satellite architecture beyond GOES-R and JPSS.
What we know today as NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) was founded 150 years ago on February 9, 1870 – that’s 15 decades of science and service to the country. Since then, weather forecasting has become far more accurate and timely. As NWS celebrates its 150th birthday, NOAA takes a look at 7 tech advancements that changed the way we do weather forecasting, including weather satellites like GOES-16 and GOES-17.
Although the U.S. saw 14 billion-dollar disasters in 2019, many less-extreme weather and climate events occur regularly. No matter how large or small, NOAA’s satellite imagery and data, including that from GOES-16 and GOES-17, were the foundation of 2019’s forecasts. For federal, state, and local emergency managers, those same satellites provided critical, up-to-the-minute information as well. A new feature story highlights how NOAA satellites bring better data for weather prediction and provide a more comprehensive scope of disasters after they happen.
GOES-15 supplemental operations to GOES-17 will be extended to March 2, 2020 (previously scheduled to end January 31, 2020). After that date, the GOES-15 spacecraft will be placed in standby. GOES-17 will continue operating in the GOES-West role at 137.2 degrees west with all instruments operating nominally. Additionally, GOES-14 supplemental space weather instrument operations will end on March 2, 2020. GOES-14 space weather instruments will be powered off at that time. See December 18, 2019 news item for additional information.
2019 was a busy year for NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). NOAA’s exceptional team of experts helped us understand our dynamic planet. GOES-16 and GOES-17 contributed to a successful 2019 by providing access to secure and timely environmental data. GOES-17 became NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite, providing high-resolution real-time visible and infrared imagery of the west coast of the contiguous U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and much of the Pacific Ocean. GOES-16 and GOES-17 monitored extreme weather events from hurricanes to wildfires, and kept an eye on the sun during eclipses, solar flares, and the Mercury transit.
The same NOAA satellites that helped forecasters track weather and wildfires were also critical in rescuing a record 421 people from potentially life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters in 2019. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the global Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System, or COSPAS-SARSAT, which uses a network of U.S. and international spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons aboard aircraft, boats and from handheld Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) anywhere in the world. In addition to carrying instruments for monitoring our atmosphere, land and oceans for severe weather and other hazards, GOES-16 and GOES-17 also carry SARSAT transponders to help locate people in distress.
Weather refers to the short-term conditions of the atmosphere at any given time. Climate refers to the long-term patterns of weather that occur in a specific place over many years, decades and centuries. This poster explains the factors that drive weather and climate.
Earth’s warming trend continued in 2019, making it the second-hottest year in NOAA’s 140-year climate record just behind 2016. The world’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015 with nine of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005, according to scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). It was also the 43rd consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above average. NASA scientists, who conducted a separate but similar analysis, concurred with NOAA’s ranking. NASA also found that 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded.
Guess who’s turning 50 this year? Throughout 2020, NOAA is celebrating 50 years of science, service and stewardship. Since its inception on October 3, 1970, NOAA has become one of the world’s premier science agencies with a mission that spans from the surface of the sun to the floor of the ocean. Our science has never been more important for our lives and our planet. See where we’ve been and where we’re going.
NOAA’s year-end climate analysis was released on January 8, 2019. It was another year of record-making weather and climate for the U.S. in 2019, which was the second wettest behind 1973. The nation also experienced 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. The extreme weather with the most widespread impact was the historically persistent and destructive U.S. flooding across more than 15 states. The combined cost of just the Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi River basin flooding ($20 billion) was almost half of the U.S. cost total in 2019.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for October – December 2019 is now available. The GOES-R Program ended 2019 on a high note. GOES-16 and GOES-17 continue operational service, providing critical weather data for the nation. Our team continues to make great progress building GOES-T and U and upgrading our ground system. The Geostationary and Extended Orbits (GEO-XO) program is officially underway, authorized to move into the conceptual phase of the mission. The team looks forward to presenting our work and connecting with colleagues at the upcoming 100th American Meteorological Society Meeting in Boston. Here’s to a productive and successful 2020 for the GOES-R and GEO-XO Programs!
Jet streams are bands of strong wind that generally blow from west to east all across the globe. They impact weather, air travel and many other things that take place in our atmosphere. Learn more about the jet stream and how the GOES-R Series monitors jet streams in a new video and article.
NOAA’s vast collection of environmental data will be more accessible than ever before through new collaborations announced on December 19, 2019, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft. Under these new agreements, commercial cloud platform providers will generate untold opportunities for scientific and economic advances by exponentially expanding, rapid and reliable, no-cost access to NOAA data for the public. NOAA has entered into separate multiyear contracts with AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft to provide the public with cloud-based access to the agency’s environmental data sets, in accordance with the agency’s full and open data policies. NOAA generates tens of terabytes of data every day from satellites, radars, ships, weather models, and other sources.
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC (ULS) of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for GOES-T, the third satellite in the GOES-R Series. GOES-T is currently targeted to launch in December 2021 on an Atlas V 541 rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA’s Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the ULS launch service. The GOES-R Flight Projects Office is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The GOES-R Program is managed by NOAA.
NOAA officials have announced plans to power off the GOES-15 satellite and place it into orbital storage by January 31, 2020. Since late 2018, GOES-15 has operated in tandem with its advanced, newly launched replacement, GOES-17, as a precaution, while engineers worked on technical issues with the loop heat pipe of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the primary instrument on the satellite. A blockage in the pipe prevented the ABI from cooling properly and hindered its ability to collect data during certain periods and hours of the year. Engineers mitigated the issue through operational changes to the ABI and mission operations, including the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques, to regain capability to collect data during a portion of the affected period. Those efforts have resulted in the GOES-17 ABI delivering more than 97 percent of expected data.
NOAA officials also announced GOES-14, which had been providing supplemental space weather instrument operations, will be powered off and placed in storage by January 31, 2020. GOES-16, perched in the GOES East orbit, is sending more advanced space weather data to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. Additionally, GOES-17 is providing products in a developmental system for space weather. Having GOES-15 in storage allows GOES-17 to operate with sole coverage of the GOES West domain, able to see the weather, including storms, fog and wildfires, at high-resolution in the western U.S., Alaska and Hawaii and much of the Pacific Ocean. GOES-15 and GOES-14 can be called back into service if either GOES-17 or GOES-16 experience issues
Explore a GOES-R Series satellite in a new interactive model. Rotate the spacecraft, zoom in and out, and explore the components of the satellite. The mobile version has an augmented reality (AR) capability that allows you to superimpose the satellite on the scene in your device's camera!
GOES-16 space weather data from the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI), Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS), Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS), and Magnetometer (MAG) instruments is now operationally available from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. GOES-16 is now the primary satellite for geostationary space weather observations. GOES-16 offers a number of improvements to space weather measurements.
The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) report, Explaining Extreme Events in 2018 from a Climate Perspective, presents 21 new peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across five continents and one sea during 2018. It features the research of 121 scientists from 13 countries looking at both historical observations and model simulations to determine whether and by how much climate change may have influenced particular extreme events. According to the report, the desiccating Four Corners drought, intense heat waves on the Iberian peninsula and in northeast Asia, exceptional precipitation in the Mid-Atlantic states, and record-low sea ice in the Bering Sea were 2018 extreme weather events made more likely by human-caused climate change.
Computers are learning to find solar flares and other events in vast streams of solar images and help NOAA forecasters issue timely alerts, according to a new study in the Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate. The machine-learning technique, developed by scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), searches massive amounts of satellite data to pick out features significant for space weather. Changing conditions on the sun and in space can affect various technologies on Earth, blocking radio communications, damaging power grids, and diminishing navigation system accuracy. GOES-R Series Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) data is being used to generate solar thematic maps that will serve as the basis for a variety of new space weather products from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends on November 30, was marked by tropical activity that churned busily from mid-August through October. The season produced 18 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three were “major” (Category 3, 4 or 5). NOAA’s outlook called for 10-17 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes and 2-4 major hurricanes, and accurately predicted the overall activity of the season. This year marks the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001. Also this year, five tropical cyclones formed in the Gulf of Mexico, which ties a record with 2003 and 1957 for the most storms to form in that region. Take a look back at the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season with NOAA.
Several GOES-R team members were recipients of the 2019 NOAA Administrator’s Award at a ceremony on November 21. Pam Sullivan and Dan Lindsey were part of a team recognized for the extraordinary effort to recover the capability of the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager for our nation’s weather forecasting needs. A team including Matthew Seybold, Kathryn Mozer, and Elizabeth Kline was recognized for innovation and collaborative problem solving to establish the National Weather Service’s operational readiness for new weather satellite data products. The NOAA Administrator’s Award recognizes employees who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, skill, and ingenuity in their significant, unique, and original contributions to NOAA, the Department of Commerce, and the Federal Government.
Wind is a fundamental variable of weather. The heating of Earth’s surface and atmosphere by the sun drives winds that move heat and moisture from one place to another. Variations in large-scale wind circulation patterns are responsible for the daily weather we experience. Satellite wind estimates help forecasters understand current weather conditions and contribute important information to global weather prediction models. Satellites like GOES-16 and GOES-17 estimate winds by tracking the motion of clouds (or water vapor features in the absence of clouds) observed in a sequence of mages. Thanks to improved resolution, faster scanning, and new imager channels, the GOES-R Series is providing more and better estimates of winds. This means improved tools for forecasters and a better understanding of impending severe weather.
On November 11, 2019, the planet Mercury passed directly between the sun and Earth and the GOES-16 Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) instrument tracked the transit. The event lasted for approximately five and a half hours, from 7:35 a.m. to 1:04 p.m. EST. During the transit, Mercury appeared as a tiny black dot moving across the sun. Transits of Mercury only happen about 13 times per century – the next transit will be in 2032 and in the U.S., the next opportunity to catch a Mercury transit is in 2049. View a time-lapse animation of the Mercury Transit
As we move into the colder and snowy months of the year, NOAA’s next generation of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites will be a critical source for monitoring and forecasting whatever weather winter throws our way. GOES-16 and GOES-17 bring state-of-the-art observational capabilities, with the 16-band Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and the first-of-its-kind Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). These sensors give scientists and forecasters better and faster weather data during the United States’ often-turbulent winter months.
The GOES-R Series Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is the first instrument of its kind in geostationary orbit. It detects total lightning (in-cloud and cloud-to-ground) activity and reveals the spatial extent and distance lightning flashes travel. Rapid increases in total lightning activity often precede severe and tornadic thunderstorms and can be an indication that a hurricane is strengthening. GLM data is critical for a number of public safety applications as well as for predicting changes in climate.
Warmer-than-average temperatures are forecast for much of the U.S. this winter according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Although below-average temperatures are not favored, cold weather is anticipated and some areas could still experience a colder-than-average winter. Wetter-than-average weather is most likely across the northern tier of the U.S. during winter, which extends from December through February. NOAA’s seasonal outlooks provide the likelihood that temperatures and total precipitation amounts will be above-, near- or below-average, and how drought conditions are favored to change. The outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations as snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance. Even during a warmer-than-average winter, periods of cold temperatures and snowfall are expected. Seasonal outlooks help communities prepare for what is likely to come in the months ahead and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods.
With the advent of the GOES-R Series, forecasters now have an overwhelming amount of information to sift through. The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument has 16 channels that image Earth’s weather, oceans and environment as often as every 30 seconds. How can meteorologists quickly discern the information they need to issue timely forecasts and warnings? Scientists are working on new ways to combine information from multiple ABI channels to enhance meteorological features of interest. The result is a variety of red-green-blue or “RGB” composite imagery. The stunning, colorful imagery you see from GOES-16 and GOES-17 isn’t just beautiful to look at, it also provides critical information to forecasters for situational awareness and nowcasting rapidly changing weather.
During a hurricane, instruments on NOAA-20 and S-NPP capture data twice a day. These data are converted into brightly colored pictures that reveal the structure, intensity and temperature of a storm, along with other features, such as lightning and gravity waves. GOES East and West satellites also show the storm’s evolution by measuring infrared and visible radiation from the atmosphere and surface in real-time. These measurements tell us about wind at various levels in the atmosphere, sea surface temperatures and cloud properties. During major storms, it’s common for these images to circulate on social media and surface in news articles and on television reports. But without the trained eye of a meteorologist, it can be a challenge for most people to know what to make of them. Using a series of images from Hurricane Dorian, NOAA created a guide to understanding satellite images of hurricanes.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for July – September 2019 is now available. We reached the peak of hurricane season in September with GOES-16 and GOES-17 keeping watch on the very active tropics. On September 18, there were six named storms across the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricane basins, tying the modern record set in 1992. There were also two Category 5 hurricanes in September, Dorian and Lorenzo. GOES-16 also monitored the record fire activity in the Amazon. Our team continues to make great progress supporting our operational satellites and data products, building GOES-T and U, and upgrading our ground system. We are also spinning up efforts on what comes after the GOES-R Series, GEO-XO (Geostationary and Extended Orbits). Stay tuned!
On October 3, 2019, The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) released a pair of Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) to engage the commercial sector in developing new concepts for instruments, spacecraft, business models, and mission elements for NOAA’s future space-based observation architecture beyond the JPSS and GOES-R systems. The Geostationary and Extended Orbits (GEO-XO) BAA seeks white papers that will lead into funded concept studies of instrument and architecture concepts for remote sensing capabilities in geostationary and extended orbits. These instrument and mission concepts would serve to continue capabilities currently supported by GOES-R, SWFO, DSCOVR, and other solar observation satellites. On October 17-18, NESDIS will hold an Industry Day in Silver Spring, Maryland, in support of the BAAs issued on October 3, for interested parties to gather more information on the BAA process and the specifics of each BAA.
GOES-16 and GOES-17 continuously view the entire Atlantic and Eastern/Central Pacific hurricane basins. New and upgraded instrumentation and data products provide early warning that a hurricane is forming, improve forecasting, tracking and monitoring of storms, and even aid emergency response to flooding from landfalling hurricanes. This vital information can help forecasters better understand and predict the behavior of hurricanes, improving public safety and protecting life and property.
The benefits from GOES-16 and GOES-17 aren’t just seen during a fire but are important in monitoring the entire lifecycle of a fire disaster. Data from the satellites are helping forecasters monitor drought conditions, locate hotspots, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, predict a fire’s motion, monitor smoke and air quality, and monitor the post-fire landscape like never before. This new infographic shows how GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide critical data every step of the way.
NOAA is highlighting the amazing things we can learn from data throughout the month of September during a celebration known as NOAA DataFest. After all, NOAA data are freely available to all who want to learn about the world and its many mysteries. NOAA DataFest also aims to educate the public and inspire our colleagues at NOAA to learn more about the robust collection of scientific Earth and environmental observations that NOAA provides while celebrating its value, reliability, and accessibility. One NOAA DataFest event is #Datapalooza — a Twitter chat/relay that invites scientists from all over the world, as well as our external partners and the public, to discuss the many ways they use NOAA data or ask questions about it. This year NOAA will be hosting conversations on three different topics throughout Thursday, Sept. 26 – Tropical Weather, Space Weather, and Fire Weather. GOES-R data is vital to each of these topics.
This season’s Humberto isn’t the first tropical cyclone in the Atlantic Basin to be given the name. In fact, it’s the fifth Hurricane Humberto to emerge in the Atlantic, but this time, NOAA is watching through the sophisticated Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) of GOES-16 (GOES East). Humberto replaced the name Hugo on the World Meteorological Organization’s list of Atlantic hurricane names after Hurricane Hugo’s devastation in 1989 prompted its name to be retired. This season’s Humberto arrived during the new era of the GOES-R Series This new generation of NOAA weather satellites is equipped with advanced sensors and instruments that are providing unprecedented, real-time monitoring of weather from space.
If you were one of the more than 2.5 million people who flew safely through a U.S. airport today, you might want to thank your flight crew and a specialized team of meteorologists working behind the scenes. Aviation weather forecasting is important business: At any given time there are 5,000 aircraft crossing the skies over the U.S. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), inclement weather is by far the leading cause of flight delays, and delays cost airlines and passengers billions of dollars each year. NOAA aviation meteorologists work alongside FAA colleagues to ensure that any rapid changes in weather are quickly communicated to pilots in the sky. GOES data is an important part of those forecasts.
Every day in America, millions of people wake up with the same question on their minds, “What’s the weather today?” The US Department of Commerce found that the majority of Americans check the weather forecast 3.8 times per day, equating to 301 billion forecasts consumed per year! These days, we take accurate forecasts — available multiple days in advance — for granted. This information wasn’t always as readily available as it is today. It takes a lot of smart science, technological infrastructure, and computing power to get the right data and information to generate a forecast. And the value of that information is profound. It helps people answer a wide variety of questions, from “What will I wear today?” to “When should I harvest my crops,” “When should I ship my product” or “When should I evacuate to avoid the storm?
From the bottom of the ocean to a million miles from Earth, NOAA has a robust collection of scientific Earth and environmental data that are free and accessible to everyone. Throughout September, you can look forward to hearing from experts in the data-realm as they delve into everything from computer learning for conservation to visualizing uncertainty. Join the conversation on Twitter using #Datapalooza and ask all your burning NOAA data questions!
In the late evening hours of August 17, 1969, a catastrophic storm named Hurricane Camille slammed into the Gulf Coast. A Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 175 mph and a storm surge of more than 24 feet, Camille devastated much of coastal Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. In 2016, came the next generation of environmental observation satellites that significantly improved tropical cyclone forecasting and severe weather prediction. Today, GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide unprecedented views of hurricanes from space.
An international, peer-reviewed publication released each summer, the State of the Climate is the authoritative annual summary of the global climate published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The report, compiled by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space. According to the report, 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record, dating back to the 1800s. Greenhouse gases were the highest on record, global sea level was the highest on record, and global surface temperature and sea surface temperature were near record high.
NOAA forecasters monitoring oceanic and atmospheric patterns say conditions are now more favorable for above-normal hurricane activity since El Nino has now ended. Two named storms have formed so far this year and the peak months of the hurricane season, August through October, are now underway. Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45% (up from 30% from the outlook issued in May). The likelihood of near-normal activity is now at 35%, and the chance of below-normal activity has dropped to 20%. The number of predicted storms is also greater with NOAA now expecting 10-17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 5-9 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 2-4 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater).
Hurricanes are very large and intense storms. But where do these giant storms come from? Learn how hurricanes form and how GOES-R satellites can help predict a storm's intensity and track it minute-by-minute. This information allows meteorologists to deliver early warnings and help people stay safe.
A new NOAA app brings earth and space animations to your phone. NOAA's SOS Explorer™ Mobile, an app for personal mobile devices, tells earth science stories by playing visually stunning data animations on a virtual globe. SOSx Mobile offers more than 115 datasets from NOAA, NASA, and academic institutions, including: Climate models predicting Earth’s temperature through 2100 for different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios; National Marine Sanctuaries’ 360-degree underwater photographs in the Florida Keys; and the entire 2017 hurricane season, including Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as captured by NOAA weather satellites.
The GOES-U satellite system module and core module were mated on July 31, 2019, and now form the GOES-U spacecraft. This is an important milestone in the development of the satellite, as it merges together the elements that form both the “brain” and the “body” of the satellite. More than 70 electronics boxes mounted within the system module provide the functionality to operate the spacecraft and its six instruments. The core module forms the main central structure of the satellite and carries the propellant needed to maneuver the spacecraft after it is separated from the launch vehicle and operational in geostationary orbit.
Firefighters do the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting and managing wildfires, but they’re often helped by the view from above, thanks to coordinated satellite observations and high-flying airplanes. A large global constellation of satellites, operated by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), combined with a small fleet of planes operated by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) help detect and map the extent, spread and impact of forest fires. GOES-16 and GOES-17 aid this effort, often spotting fires before they are reported on the ground.
Extreme wildfire seasons are no longer an outlier in the western United States, where climate change is drying out vegetation and people are moving deeper and deeper into western forests. All that fire produces a lot of smoke — and a serious air pollution problem. This summer, NOAA and NASA are teaming up on a massive research campaign called FIREX-AQ that will use satellites (including GOES-16 and GOES-17), aircraft, drones, mobile and ground stations to study smoke from wildfires and agricultural crop fires across the U.S. Hundreds of scientists will explore the chemistry of trace gases and aerosols in smoke to uncover its secrets, improve weather and air quality models, and provide better forecasts to first responders, public health and land management officials. FIREX-AQ website.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for April – June 2019 is now available. GOES-16 and GOES-17 continue to provide high definition imagery to forecasters, monitoring Hurricane Barry as it came ashore near New Orleans, viewing the first eruption of the Raikoke volcano in the northwest Pacific since 1924, and even detecting a refinery explosion in Philadelphia and an asteroid entering Earth’s atmosphere south of Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, the program is focused on the redesign of the Advanced Baseline Imager radiator and the repair of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper to support the new GOES-T launch planning date of December 2021. The Ground Segment server replacement is also progressing, on plan to be completed before the GOES-T launch. GOES-U’s new space weather instrument, the Compact Coronagraph, passed its Critical Design review and is proceeding with fabrication.
NOAA/NESDIS and the NASA Earth Sciences Division are holding a Satellite Meteorology Summer Workshop July 8-19 at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) in Fort Collins, Colorado. The workshop focuses on the theory and use of satellite data to engage graduate students and individuals with early postdoctoral appointments in the science of developing and using satellite data for the atmosphere, land, oceans and cryosphere. The program includes internationally recognized experts in radiative transfer theory, satellite meteorology, and numerical weather prediction at both the global scale and mesoscale. The objective of the workshop is to foster education of the next generation of satellite meteorologists and promote the use of observations from the latest operational and research satellite missions.
GOES East saw the moon’s shadow as it moved west to east across South America on July 2, 2019. Parts of Chile and Argentina experienced a total solar eclipse, which is when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking out all of the light from the sun. Those in the path of totality were able to see the sun’s corona. While the eclipse began over the Pacific Ocean, La Serena, Chile, was one of the first cities in the path of totality to view the eclipse.
GOES-U, scheduled to launch in late 2024, won’t be an exact replica of its siblings in the GOES-R Series. That’s because GOES-U will accommodate an additional space weather instrument, the Naval Research Laboratory’s Compact Coronagraph (CCOR). CCOR recently completed its Critical Design Review, which affirmed that the design meets requirements and is ready to proceed with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. CCOR will image the solar corona (the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere) and help detect and characterize coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
On June 21, GOES East and GOES West simultaneously saw the slanted shadows separating day and night on Earth just minutes after the summer solstice occurred. Summer solstice is the start of astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the moment that hemisphere reaches its greatest tilt toward the sun. The solstice occurred at 11:54 a.m. EDT, when the sun's direct rays reached as far north as they could get, along the Tropic of Cancer, at 23.5 degrees North latitude. It was the longest day (and shortest night) of the year.
Rapid increases in total lightning (in-cloud and cloud-to-ground) activity often precede severe and tornadic thunderstorms. The GOES-R Series Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is the first operational lightning mapper flown in geostationary orbit. GLM data reveal convective storm development and evolution and provide insights beyond the presence of a lightning strike, including the spatial extent and distance lightning flashes travel. Trends in total lightning available from GLM provide critical information to forecasters, allowing them to identify initial thunderstorm development and focus on potentially severe storms before they produce damaging winds, hail or tornadoes. GLM can also aid with aviation route planning and early recognition of conditions conducive to lightning-ignited wildfires. The instrument has even been found useful in identifying meteors entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
The winners of the 2019 GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair were announced on June 7. Two middle school teams tied for first place: Auburn, Massachusetts, and Medford New Jersey. The high school first place team is from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Students from grades 6-14 were invited to participate in the virtual science fair. Each team used data from GOES-16 and GOES-17 to investigate weather and natural hazards. View all the science project submissions.
Fires, whether naturally occurring or manmade, have substantial impacts upon society. Wildfires can destroy vast tracts of land, releasing tons of aerosols and gases into the atmosphere, while destroying homes, wildlife habitats and valuable resources. Satellites allow for detecting and monitoring a range of fires, providing information about the location, duration, size, temperature, and power output of those fires that would otherwise be unavailable. With the GOES-R Series, this information can be used to track fires in real time, provide input data for air quality modeling, and help separate the impact of the fires from other sources of pollution. A new fact sheet highlights the new tools available for detecting and monitoring wildfires, observing and monitoring smoke from those fires, monitoring burn scars, and predicting flash flood events from rain events after a fire.
Volcanic ash is a significant health, aviation, infrastructure, and economic hazard. Volcanic emissions generate complex clouds that can affect local, regional, or, in the case of very large eruptions, global weather and climate. Given the remote location of most volcanoes and the rapid formation and expansion of volcanic clouds, geostationary satellites are the primary tool for identifying, tracking and characterizing volcanic clouds. GOES East and GOES West observe a significant fraction of the most volcanically active region on Earth, known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” The GOES-R Series provides a complete set of advanced volcanic cloud detection and monitoring products and tools. A new fact sheet highlights how forecasters use GOES-R volcanic ash applications to identify areas where ash is present and potentially hazardous and issue more accurate aviation, air quality, ground safety, and public health warnings.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide continued its rapid rise in 2019, with the average for May peaking at 414.7 parts per million (ppm) at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory. The measurement is the highest seasonal peak recorded in 61 years of observations on top of Hawaii’s largest volcano and the seventh consecutive year of steep global increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to data published on June 4, 2019, by NOAA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The 2019 peak value was 3.5 ppm higher than the 411.2 ppm peak in May 2018 and marks the second-highest annual jump on record.
With significant coastal populations and property at stake, two new studies by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and its research partners focus on the behavior of tropical cyclones. Because hurricanes can cause fatalities and billions of dollars in damage, the new research could contribute to greater preparedness, improved forecasts, and resiliency efforts. These studies delve into the speed, direction, and intensity of tropical cyclones.
The cryosphere includes snow, sea ice, lake and river ice, icebergs, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, ice shelves, permafrost, seasonally frozen ground, and solid precipitation. Changes in the cryosphere have major impacts on water supply, agriculture, transportation, freshwater ecosystems, hydropower production, health, and recreation. Notable cryosphere-related hazards include floods, droughts, avalanches, and sea-level rise. Satellite instruments are essential for delivering large-scale observations of the cryosphere and are a key to extending ground-based measurements. A new fact sheet highlights snow and ice applications from the GOES-R Series. Cryospheric observations and information from the GOES-R Series provide a new opportunity to continuously observe snow and ice from geostationary orbit, improving weather forecasting and hazard warnings and helping to reduce the risk of loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters. These observations provide a better understanding of environmental factors that affect human health and well-being, are critical to marine navigation at high latitudes, and improve the management of water resources, and terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.
Hurricanes are one of the most menacing natural hazards, especially for island and coastal populations. A warming climate is expected to impact sea level rise, storm surge, tropical cyclone rainfall rates, and tropical cyclone intensity. We are also seeing a pattern of slower storms, remaining stationary over a location for longer periods of time and increasing flooding impacts. This isn’t great news for the millions of people in the paths of hurricanes each year. Fortunately, we have two new advanced geostationary satellites, NOAA’s GOES-16 and GOES-17 that continuously view the entire Atlantic and Eastern/Central Pacific hurricane basins. The latest generation of GOES carry sophisticated instruments that provide new and dramatically improved capabilities for forecasting, tracking and monitoring hurricanes as well as the environmental conditions that cause them to form.
The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA‘s) Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season. For 2019, NOAA predicts a likely range of 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). This outlook reflects competing climate factors. The ongoing El Nino is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season. Countering El Nino is the expected combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity. In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued the seasonal hurricane outlook for the central Pacific basin. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced a 70% chance of above-normal tropical cyclone activity during the central Pacific hurricane season this year and predicted 5 to 8 tropical cyclones for the central Pacific basin.
Cloud and moisture imagery is the satellite imagery that forecasters and the public are accustomed to viewing in weather forecast offices, on the web and in the news. Cloud and moisture imagery includes digital maps of observed land, water and clouds. A new GOES-R cloud and moisture imagery fact sheet explains what types of imagery the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) provides. The GOES-R Series ABI measures energy at different wavelengths, which is either reflected (visible and near infrared) or emitted (infrared) from the Earth’s surface. The ABI increases spatial resolution (to better monitor small-scale features), provides faster coverage (to improve temporal sampling and to scan additional regions) and adds spectral bands (to enable new and improved products for a wide range of phenomena). ABI provides advanced measurements of atmospheric and surface conditions such as sea and land surface temperatures, vegetation, clouds, aerosols, hurricanes, winds, water vapor, rainfall, snow and ice cover, fire locations, smoke plumes, volcanic ash and gas, atmospheric temperature and moisture, and ozone.
Aerosols are solid and semi-solid particles suspended in the air that have harmful impacts on human health and the environment. GOES-R Series satellites provide a host of aerosol imagery and quantitative retrieval products for air quality monitoring and forecasting applications. A new GOES-R aerosols/air quality applications fact sheet explains how GOES-R satellites enable forecasters to better monitor areas of smoke and dust, which can be critical factors in visibility, aviation and air quality forecasts. In addition to short-term prediction, they also enable better monitoring of the long-term trends in aerosol quantities and distribution throughout the atmosphere to help climate scientists monitor and predict climate change.
National Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 5-11, 2019. This is your time to prepare for a potential land-falling tropical storm or hurricane. On each day of this week, NOAA will provide the tips you'll need to get prepared for the hurricane season. Hurricane season begins May 15 in the eastern Pacific, and June 1 for the central Pacific and Atlantic. Visit the Hurricane Preparedness webpage to learn about hurricane hazards and safety and learn how to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
In an effort to build a Weather-Ready Nation ahead of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA hurricane experts will tour five eastern U.S. cities from May 6-10 to raise awareness of the importance of preparing for the upcoming hurricane season. At each stop, the public and media can take a tour of the “hurricane hunter” aircraft that fly around and directly into the eye of a storm — a NOAA WP-3D Orion aircraft and a U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J aircraft.
Earth Day was born from former Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson’s desire to bring environmental issues to the forefront of the national political agenda. The first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970, was followed by the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Today, more than 1 billion people will participate in Earth Day activities, raising awareness about critical environmental issues. In celebration of Earth Day, we’re taking a look at just how far satellite imagery has come since 1970.
It’s that time again to reacquaint yourself with the health and well-being of our planet. We know what you’re thinking … but it’s not all bad news. NOAA scientists are using their expertise and innovation to help to solve Earth’s biggest challenges. Check out NOAA’s list of useful, fun and fascinating feature stories to pique your interest during Earth Day week, including one on NOAA’s newest operational satellite, GOES-17!
Coral reefs are one of the most productive and biodiverse ecosystems in the world. They cover an estimated 110,000 square miles of the ocean floor and are home to more than 25 percent of marine species for at least some part of their lives. As part of this year’s Earth Day theme, “Protect Our Species,” we’re looking at how NOAA’s satellites are monitoring the effects of climate change on coral reefs around the globe. Using a combination of NOAA and international partners’ satellites, Coral Reef Watch can monitor ocean temperatures and identify areas at risk for coral bleaching. The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) aboard the GOES-R satellite series and NOAA-20’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) provide data on ocean temperatures by looking at the infrared radiation that’s emitted from the ocean.
Scientists at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center conducted a detailed post-storm analysis on all the data available for Hurricane Michael and have determined that the storm’s estimated intensity at landfall was 160 mph. This makes Michael a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale at the time of landfall on October 10, 2018, near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a Category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and only the fourth on record.
Volcanic ash is a significant health, aviation, infrastructure and economic hazard. GOES East and GOES West observe a significant fraction of the most volcanically active region on Earth, known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” New capabilities from the GOES-16 and GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager and Geostationary Lightning Mapper provide improved volcanic hazard forecasting and monitoring through sophisticated new data products and automated detection tools. As forecasters gain more experience with new GOES-R Series datasets, the value of the measurements will increase significantly, resulting in safer and more efficient air transportation and a better understanding of volcanic processes and the complex relationship between volcanic emissions and weather and climate.
What does NOAA do for you? NOAA provides timely and reliable information based on sound science to communities and businesses every day. From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, Americans rely on NOAA. GOES-16 and GOES-17 helped NOAA respond to extreme weather events in 2018 and contributed to improving NOAA’s observational infrastructure. View a story map version of NOAA’s 2018 Business Brief.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for January – March 2019 is now available. GOES-17 is now operational as GOES West and we now have advanced geostationary satellite capabilities for more than half the globe. The program remains as busy as ever, with the team continuing to work on GOES-16 and 17 data product validation, the ground system server refresh, the GOES-T/U Advanced Baseline Imager cooling system redesign, and the build of our next two satellites in order to ensure continuity of GOES-R series operations for many years to come.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is reporting an accelerated flood season across the Midwestern United States. On March 13, 2019, a winter storm system intensified and swept across much of the Central U.S., causing heavy rain, severe thunderstorms, snow, and blizzard conditions. The storm led to widespread flooding across parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. New flood products, utilizing GOES-R Series and JPSS data, are helping forecasters better determine where and when flooding will occur and aiding officials in determining where to deploy resources during a flood event.
Aerospace America published an article “Saving GOES-17,” authored by John Van Naarden, Advanced Baseline Imager chief engineer at Harris Corp., and Dan Lindsey, NOAA’s senior scientific advisor to the GOES-R Program. The article outlined the issues that were discovered with the cooling system on GOES-17’s primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, and efforts to improve performance of the instrument. Despite a thermal system operating at only about 5% of its capacity, ABI is now delivering more than 97% of its intended data, thanks to recovery efforts.
On April 2, 2019, the GOES-16 and GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imagers began operating in a new scan mode, 10-minute flex mode. Ten-minute flex mode is very similar to the previous default flex mode with one exception: a full disk image is generated every 10 minutes instead of every 15 minutes. Contiguous U.S. (CONUS) for GOES-16/ Pacific U.S. (PACUS) for GOES-17 scans (3000 km by 50000 km) are still provided every five minutes, in addition to two mesoscale domains (1000 km by 1000 km) every 60 seconds (or one domain every 30 seconds if scanning the same domain). The new scan mode allows NOAA to match the full-disk scanning cadence of our international partners and will be critical to National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices, National Centers, and the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers in monitoring hazardous weather conditions and providing additional information in observationally limited areas.
According to NOAA's spring flood and climate outlook, a wet winter has primed much of the Great Plains for spring flooding in 2019, with major flooding likely along the Red River of the North, the Missouri, and the Mississippi Rivers. Moderate flood risk extends upstream of those rivers to their tributaries, including the lower Ohio, the Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers. Minor flood risk covers nearly the entire country east of the Mississippi as well as parts of Washington, Oregon, and California.
Researchers are using satellite data to alert farmers and ranchers about impending flash droughts. Thermal infrared imagery from both the GOES-R Series satellites, as well as polar orbiting satellites like NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP, is used to estimate evapotranspiration, which is a measure of how much water is being transferred from the land to the atmosphere through the soil and plants. Using a tool called the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI), it’s now possible to deliver a probabilistic forecast, like the ones we get from the National Weather Service, a month or so ahead of the onset of a flash drought. New tools and better forecasts give the agricultural sector even more options to deal with drought and can help mitigate their future impact.
The 2018 NOAA Science Report is now available. The report highlights NOAA’s research accomplishments and the vital service’s the agency provides to Americans every day. The science report spans the entire range of NOAA’s mission, and the 72 stories featured in this year’s report represent a selection of NOAA’s research and development accomplishments. The GOES-R mission is highlighted in several areas of the report, including the GOES-S (17) launch, lightning detection, solar imaging and space weather monitoring, fire detection and monitoring, flood mapping, and hurricane tracking.
Each year, NOAA helps the United States prepare for hurricanes by issuing a seasonal outlook before the official start of the season on June 1. Gerry Bell, Ph.D., from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, spoke to reporters at the National Press Club on March 5 about how NOAA creates this outlook and the climate drivers that fuel or suppress a hurricane season. Bell said the Atlantic remains in a period of increased hurricane activity that began in 1995 and generates more, stronger, and longer-lived storms. Bell also identified several global climate patterns that can drive hurricane development within that high-activity era. The Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) influences hurricane seasons over several decades and the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) drives year-to-year variability. “By predicting key climate patterns, we can often predict these regional hurricane-controlling conditions, and therefore predict the strength of the upcoming hurricane season,” he said.
Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues. New research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA examines jet stream and moisture patterns in California over a centuries-long time period—1571 to 2013. The work provides a stronger foundation and a longer-term perspective for evaluating regional natural hazards within California and the economic risks to one of the world's largest economies.
Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow conveyor belts of moisture that move through the atmosphere. Strong atmospheric rivers can deliver enormous amounts of rain and high-elevation snow in California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska, especially during the winter months. The GOES-R Series Advanced Baseline Imager provides improved detection and monitoring of atmospheric river events. Understanding and anticipating the role of atmospheric rivers is important for water and emergency management on the West Coast, particularly in California. GOES-17, recently designated NOAA’s GOES West operational satellite, is positioned to keep an eye on the western U.S., Alaska and Pacific Ocean, and provide advanced monitoring of atmospheric rivers among other weather phenomena and hazards.
In 2018, the NOAA Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system helped save 340 lives with the aid of NOAA satellites like GOES-16. In addition to carrying instruments for monitoring our atmosphere, land and oceans for severe weather and other hazards, GOES-16 also carries a SARSAT transponder to help locate people in distress. This transponder provides the capability to immediately detect distress signals from emergency beacons and relay them to ground stations. In turn, this signal is routed to a SARSAT mission control center and then sent to a rescue coordination center, which dispatches a search and rescue team to the location of the distress.
GOES-17 is now operational as NOAA’s GOES West. In its new role, GOES-17 is providing faster, more accurate, and more detailed observations for detecting and monitoring Pacific storm systems, fog, wildfires, and other weather phenomena that affect the western United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. Located at 137.2 degrees west longitude, GOES-17 replaces GOES-15 as NOAA’s operational GOES West. GOES-17 joins GOES-16, in operations as NOAA’s GOES East, in delivering high-resolution visible and infrared imagery and lightning observations of more than half the globe – from the west coast of Africa to New Zealand and from near the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle. View GOES-17 operational imagery.
For the globe, 2018 became the fourth warmest year on record and the United States experienced 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. These are findings from the 2018 Annual Global Climate Report from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, which is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making. Earth’s long-term warming trend continued in 2018 as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the globe’s fourth hottest year in NOAA’s 139-year climate record. The year ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest). In separate analyses of global temperatures, scientists from NASA, the United Kingdom Met Office and the World Meteorological Organization also reached the same heat ranking.
GOES East captured a partial solar eclipse on February 5, 2019. In this animation from the satellite’s Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) instrument, you can see the moon passing across the sun. A partial eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are not exactly in line with the Earth and the moon only partially obscures the sun.
On February 1, 2019, at 1:17 p.m. EST, the GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) detected a bright meteor over northwestern Cuba. The meteorite landed near Viñales, Pinar del Río in western Cuba. While designed for mapping lightning flashes, GLM can observe large meteors anywhere throughout its coverage area. The instrument takes 500 images of Earth every second, allowing it to measure the shape of a meteor “light curve,” or the change in brightness of a meteor with time, with millisecond precision.
The GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager also detected the airborne debris cloud as it drifted northeastward then eastward for about an hour after the impact. The signatures in the split cloud top phase and split window imagery were due to the presence of mineral dust particles within the debris cloud — the emissivity properties of dust affects the sensed brightness temperatures differently for various infrared spectral bands. The cirrus spectral band is useful for detecting the scattering of light by airborne particles such as ice crystals, volcanic ash, smoke or dust. The debris cloud was also casting a subtle shadow onto the surface, as seen in the visible imagery.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for the time period October – December 2018 is now available. GOES-17 completed its Handover Readiness Review and the program handed the satellite over to NOAA’s Office of Satellite and Product Operations. GOES-17 is now in its operational location at 137.2 west and is providing stunning imagery of the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, and even New Zealand. The satellite is ready for operations as NOAA’s GOES West.
This conference merges three satellite conferences into one major event. NOAA, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Satellite Meteorology, Oceanography, and Climatology (SatMetOC), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) will hold a joint conference September 29 – October 4, 2019, in Boston. Abstract submissions are due on March 1, 2019.
March 30 – April 2, 2020
Colorado Springs, ColoradoConference Info
April 21-24, 2020
College Park, MarylandWorkshop Info
September 12-17, 2020
Tulsa, OklahomaConference Info
September 28 – October 2, 2020
Würzburg, GermanyConference Info