Atmospheric and oceanic conditions are primed to fuel storm development in the Atlantic, leading to what could be an “extremely active” season, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. On August 6, 2020, the agency released its annual August update to the Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, initially issued in May. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is already off to a rapid pace with a record-setting nine named storms so far and has the potential to be one of the busiest on record. The updated outlook calls for 19-25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 7-11 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 3-6 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This update covers the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, and includes the nine named storms to date
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for April – June 2020 is now available. As we continue operations with most personnel working remotely and on-site work limited to mission critical activities, the GOES-R team continues to shine. We delivered the GOES-T ABI and GLM instruments and integrated them with the spacecraft. We completed testing of the Goddard Magnetometers and they will ship this month. GOES-T is preparing for environmental testing. We are restarting work at NOAA operational facilities to support current GOES-16/17 operations, GOES-T launch preparations, and a ground system upgrade. Our satellites continue to provide critical data and imagery to forecasters.
NOAA maintains a fleet of satellites to monitor Earth’s weather, environment and climate. These satellites provide essential data that feed forecasts and warn us of severe weather and environmental hazards. There are two primary types of satellites used for weather forecasts: geostationary and polar-orbiting. Together, they make a powerful team. Each provides critical information about severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, and flooding, as well as wildfires, smoke plumes, volcanic eruptions, and dust storms. Different vantage points, imaging frequency, and instrumentation provide complementary measurements for a complete picture of what’s happening on Earth.
On June 25, 2020, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) certified two new lightning “megaflash” records. A panel of experts confirmed new world records for the longest reported distance for a single lightning flash (440 miles) in Brazil in 2018, and the longest duration of a single lightning flash (16.73 seconds) in Argentina in 2019. Data from the GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) was used to verify the records.
As we move through the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, you will no doubt hear a lot about the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) —a mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during the late spring, summer and early fall. This layer can travel and impact locations thousands of miles away from its African origins. NOAA Satellite and Information Service sat down with scientist Dr. Jason Dunion, a University of Miami hurricane researcher working with NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, to talk about the SAL. They also discussed how forecasters and scientists monitor and study the SAL using data from several satellites, including GOES-16, NOAA-20, and the NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP.
The powerful hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 8,000 people and destroying more than 3,600 buildings, took the coastal city by surprise. A new video looks at advances in hurricane forecasting in the 120 years since, with a focus on the contributions from weather satellites. A fleet of Earth-observing satellites, including those from the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series (GOES-R), provides remarkable advances in hurricane forecasting. This satellite technology has allowed us to track hurricanes – their location, movement and intensity.
The incredible 2005 Atlantic hurricane season broke many long-standing records. It began on June 8, with Tropical Storm Arlene, one of 27 named storms that formed during that unprecedented hurricane season. Since 2005, a new generation of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites has provided NOAA with state-of-the-art data and imagery for tropical storms and hurricanes. Take a look back at that record-breaking season—and see what NOAA satellites are providing for 2020.
GOES satellites are known for providing critical data to weather forecasters, but the information they collect can also help the renewable energy sector. The detailed data GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) provide about clouds is useful for forecasting solar energy production. Clouds affect the output of ground-based solar power generation systems. Information from the satellites can be used to track the motion of clouds, predict the passage of cloud shadows, and estimate the amount of sunlight reaching solar energy systems. This data is crucial for harnessing solar energy and efficiently delivering it to consumers.
Hurricane forecast models got an upgrade this year, thanks to new satellite data. For the first time, GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) data are being fed into NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) computer model used to forecast the track and intensity of tropical cyclones. This year, high-resolution wind data from GOES-16 and GOES-17 is included in the model. The ability to characterize the wind fields in and around a hurricane is crucial to predicting future storm motion and intensity.
The GOES-16 (GOES-East) Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) observed two solar flares on the morning of May 29, the first significant solar activity observed since October 2017. This may be a sign of the sun's solar cycle ramping up and becoming more active. As the sun moves through its natural 11-year cycle, in which its activity rises and falls, sunspots rise and fall in number, too. NASA and NOAA track sunspots in order to determine, and predict, the progress of the solar cycle — and ultimately, solar activity. Currently, scientists are paying close attention to the sunspot number as it's key to determining the dates of solar minimum, which is the official start of Solar Cycle 25. It takes at least six months of solar observations and sunspot-counting after a minimum to know when it's occurred. Because that minimum is defined by the lowest number of sunspots in a cycle, scientists need to see the numbers consistently rising before they can determine when exactly they were at the bottom. That means solar minimum is an instance only recognizable in hindsight: It could take six to 12 months after the fact to confirm when minimum has actually passed. This new sunspot activity could be a sign that the sun is possibly revving up to the new cycle and has passed through minimum.
An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
Researchers from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies have greater confidence that warming surface temperatures and increasing tropical cyclone intensity appear to go hand-in-hand. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) indicates a significant global increase in hurricane intensity over a four-decade period, showing the emergence of more significant findings than previous work. New algorithms indicate future years could be among the warmest, and according to a statistical analysis, the year 2020 is very likely to rank among the five warmest years on record.
On May 18, 1980, iconic Mount St. Helens erupted in southwestern Washington state in the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history. In a new feature story, take a look back at the eruption as viewed by GOES-3 and see how far satellite monitoring of volcanic activity has come since then. This feature also highlights some of the most compelling volcano imagery NOAA has collected over the last four decades.
While the global average number of tropical cyclones each year has not budged from 86 over the last four decades, climate change has been influencing the locations of where these deadly storms occur, according to new NOAA-led research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. New research indicates that the number of tropical cyclones has been rising since 1980 in the North Atlantic and Central Pacific, while storms have been declining in the western Pacific and in the South Indian Ocean. Three forces are influencing where storms are hitting: greenhouse gases, particulate pollution and other aerosols, and volcanic eruptions.
It's National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Each day has a preparedness theme with important tips to help you prepare. Be ready for hurricane season by determining your personal hurricane risk, finding out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and reviewing/updating insurance policies. You can also make a list of items to replenish hurricane emergency supplies and start thinking about how you will prepare your home for the coming hurricane season. Hurricane season begins May 15 in the eastern Pacific, and June 1 for the central Pacific and Atlantic. Visit the National Weather Service Hurricane Preparedness webpage to learn about hurricane hazards and safety and learn how to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day! Shortly after the first Earth Day, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was created along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were also passed. Today, more than 1 billion people in 193 countries participate in Earth Day activities, raising awareness about critical environmental issues. In celebration of Earth Day, NOAA takes a look at just how far geostationary satellite technology has come since 1970, when the first geostationary satellite, ATS-1 was launched.
A new article from NOAA SciJinks, published April 15, explains trade winds. Wind often blows in different directions, but many are quite predictable. For example, the trade winds are air currents closer to Earth’s surface that blow from east to west just north and south of the equator. The winds help ships travel west, and they can also steer storms such as hurricanes, too. GOES-East keeps an eye on how trade winds impact the movement of hurricanes and tropical storms toward the southeastern United States.
Flooding within the Red River of the North basin straddling the North Dakota and Minnesota border is very common this time of year. On April 10, 2020, major flooding was occurring over much of the Red River and its tributaries due to seasonal snow melt. GOES-16 satellite imagery and river flood products aided the National Weather Service Grand Forks Weather Forecast operations by providing excellent details in gauging flooding impacts from river and overland flooding.
On April 13, 2020, NESDIS announced the first in a series of contract awards to develop mission, spacecraft and instrument concepts for future Earth observation capabilities. The new concepts NESDIS is considering in this initial round are atmospheric temperature and pressure sounding observations in low earth orbit (LEO) and broader mission approaches for geostationary earth orbits (GEO) and extended orbits (GEO-XO). NESDIS will use the results of these analyses to inform the design, acquisition, development, and launch of a cost-effective, agile satellite architecture to support NOAA’s mission in the coming decades.
These contracts follow a pair of Broad Agency Announcements NESDIS issued last Fall, calling for ideas from the commercial and research sector. After a formal review of the white papers over this past winter, NESDIS directed Requests for Proposals to selected entities. NESDIS will award additional contracts over the next month and anticipates completing these analyses this year.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for January – March 2020 is now available. Our work environment changed dramatically in March with the arrival of COVID-19. With most personnel working remotely, and on-site work limited to mission-critical operations, we had to adapt how we accomplished our mission. No surprise that the GOES-R team rose to the challenge! Despite the uncertainty and changing work conditions, we continue to accomplish major program milestones.
The Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system is recognized by emergency responders and related governmental organizations every year on April 6 because it tracks 406 MHz distress signals from transmitters and beacons from around the globe. In 2019, SARSAT helped rescue 421 people in and around the U.S. and its territories. NOAA’s fleet of polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites—such as the JPSS and GOES-R series— is part of a network of international spacecraft that are designed to detect and locate distress signals from anywhere on Earth.
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.