EUMETSAT has begun trial dissemination of data from instruments on board the Metop-B polar-orbiting satellite to partners, including the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Met Office (UK), Deutscher Wetterdienst and Météo-France.
The excellent data quality is in line with that achieved by Metop-A. This shows that Metop-B, launched on 17 September, is performing well and is on its way to replacing the ageing Metop-A as EUMETSAT’s prime operational satellite in polar orbit at the end of April 2013.
This trial dissemination now includes data from the following instruments:
Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A (AMSU-A): 28 September
Global Navigation Satellite System Receiver for Atmospheric Sounding (GRAS): 1 October
Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS): 2 October
Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR/3): 4 October for VIS channels, 16 October for infrared channels
Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT): 23 October
High-Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS/4): 26 October
Trial dissemination of data from the GOME-2 and IASI instruments is planned to start in December-January as they require more calibration efforts.
The Metop-B instruments deliver measurements of the atmosphere, including temperature and humidity profiles, cloud properties, and greenhouse and trace gases such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide. The instruments also observe the ocean and continental surfaces, providing measurements of wind at the ocean surface, ice, snow and soil moisture.
Temperature and humidity profiles, wind at the ocean surface, and soil moisture are essential inputs to Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models, the basis of modern weather forecasting. The all-weather wind measurements provided by ASCAT are used worldwide to track mid-latitude storms and tropical cyclones.
The Metop satellites are Europe’s first operational meteorological satellites in polar orbit. They constitute the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) delivering data for numerical weather prediction (NWP) – the basis of modern weather forecasting – and climate and environmental monitoring.
Flying at an altitude of 817 km, each Metop satellite carries the same sophisticated suite of instruments providing fine-scale global data, which can only be gathered in the low Earth orbit, such as vertical profiles of atmospheric temperature and moisture, wind speed and direction at the ocean surface, and some atmospheric trace gases.
Observations from Metop-A have significantly improved weather forecasts up to 10 days ahead. These forecasts are essential to protect life and limit damage to property, but they also benefit the weather-sensitive sectors of the European economy, especially energy, transportation, construction, agriculture and tourism.
The three Metop satellites, launched sequentially, will provide continuous data until 2020. The first satellite, Metop-A, was launched in 2006, and the third and final satellite, Metop-C, is scheduled for launch at the end of 2017.
ESA is responsible for the development of the three Metop satellites, fulfilling user and system requirements defined by EUMETSAT. ESA also carries out operations for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase to place the satellites in polar orbit, before handing them over to EUMETSAT for commissioning and exploitation. EUMETSAT develops all ground systems required to deliver products and services to users and to respond to their evolving needs, procures launch services and operates the full system for the benefit of users.
The EPS programme is Europe’s contribution to the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS), with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 26 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, 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 five Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, and Serbia).
EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8 and -9 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean. The third Meteosat Second Generation satellite, MSG-3, was launched on 5 July 2012 and will be renamed Meteosat-10 after commissioning is complete.
Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, was launched in October 2006 and has been delivering operational data since 15 May 2007. It will be replaced by Metop-B, which was launched on 17 September 2012.
The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite, launched on 20 June 2008, added monitoring of sea state, ocean currents and sea level change to the missions EUMETSAT conducts.
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.