(Wednesday, 28 August 2013) Building on a 30-year relationship, EUMETSAT and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) signed a long-term cooperative agreement, ensuring continued space-based operational monitoring of weather, ocean and climate.
At a ceremony at the European Union Delegation in Washington, DC, EUMETSAT’s Director-General, Alain Ratier, and Kathryn D. Sullivan, NOAA Acting Administrator, signed the agreement, in the presence of high-level representatives of the European Commission.
“The partnership between EUMETSAT and NOAA has continuously developed over the last 30 years and taken a strategic dimension, bringing substantial benefits to Europe, the USA and the worldwide user communities. Today the partnership covers back-up arrangements and data exchange for geostationary satellites and full sharing of low Earth orbit satellite systems, with the Initial Joint Polar System and the Jason series. With this agreement, we have established a policy framework to further develop our cooperation into the next decades”, Ratier said.
Having exchanged data from their geostationary spacecraft for decades and established back-up arrangements, EUMETSAT and NOAA now operate an Initial Joint Polar System consisting of the European Metop satellites and the US NOAA-19, -18 and Suomi NPP satellites, delivering global measurements that are essential for weather forecasting and environmental and climate monitoring. The partnership also extends to the ocean surface topography mission implemented by the Jason series, which is crucial to sea level monitoring in our changing climate, to seasonal forecasting and to the development of operational oceanography in support of the Marine service of the EU-led Copernicus programme.
EUMETSAT and NOAA are planning to expand their cooperation into the next decades, with the implementation of the Joint Polar System combining the EUMETSAT Metop-Second Generation and the NOAA JPSS satellites, and of the planned Jason-Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) programme also involving ESA and the European Commission.
“The need for environmental intelligence has never been stronger. This partnership with our EUMETSAT colleagues allows us to continue collecting and sharing vital space-based observations, resulting in a better understanding of our global environment,” Sullivan said.
EUMETSAT and NOAA have been key contributing agencies since the beginning of the EU-US dialogue on the peaceful use of space led by the US State Department and the European Commission, where their long-standing operational cooperation is regarded as a unique example.
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 27 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and four Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Iceland, Lithuania and Serbia).
EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8, -9 and -10 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean.
EUMETSAT also operates two Metop polar orbiting satellites as part of the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) shared with the US National Administration for Atmosphere and Ocean (NOAA). The Metop-B polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, launched on 17 September 2012, became prime operational satellite on 24 April 2013. It replaced Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, which was launched in October 2006. Metop-A will continue operations as long as its available capacities bring benefits to users.
The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite, launched on 20 June 2008 and exploited jointly with NOAA, NASA and CNES, added monitoring of sea state, ocean currents and sea level change to the EUMETSAT product portfolio.
The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and the global climate.
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