The Met Office is a world-leading weather and climate service, they work closely with governments, organisations and individuals to provide weather predictions and scientific knowledge (Met Office, 2014). Most UK news channels have weather forecasters approved by the Met Office and so with their research and predictions comes great responsibility. I want to know what technologies they use to forecast weather across the UK and learn more about a real-life application of remote sensing knowledge…who knows I could become a weather girl with my remote sensing skills!?
The Met Office use a combination of EUMETSAT and Numerical Weather Patterns Satellite Application Frequency (NWP SAF) data, as well as a combination of radar and thermal imagery. Once the data is collected, analysts at the Met Office predict what atmospheric changes we should expect and the addition of thermal imagery assists in forecasting temperatures (Met Office, 2014). Figure 1 below shows a Met Office analyst at work.
The NWP SAF is a collaborative project which develops tools to exploit satellite data for NWP. The NWP SAF is one of eight Satellite Application Facilities funded by EUMETSAT (Met Office, 2014). EUMETSAT uses over 25 geospatial satellites, to monitor climate changes across the globe, the Met Office uses all the data provided by these satellites to monitor changing weather patterns (EUMETSAT, 2014). The satellites all have life spans, and the first generation satellite Meteostat (MGF) is due to run out in 2016, so two more MGF satellites have been deployed, they observe atmospheric changes around the equator (EUMETSAT, 2014).
Contrary to what I first thought, a combination of many satellites provides weather predictions. In fact, the Polar Orbiting Satellite has lead to a 25% reduction of 24 hour forecast errors, and this reduction in errors means more money can be invested into the programs. Below is a video link, showing Meteosat combining 2 satellites to generate images of Europe and Africa which are used for forecasting (EUMETSAT, 2014). Weather forecasting relies on short temporal resolution, as the forecast can change over a couple of hours (Chahine et al,1984). Also, some satellite data experiences atmospheric interaction, disrupting the data (Chahine,1984).
I enjoyed researching the information for this blog, as the Met Office forecasts are something I take for granted whilst watching the news, however, I’ve learnt more about the application of remote sensing and the combination of satellites used to tell me if I’m going to need my coat or not!
Meteosat video link:
Chahine, M. T., Reuter, D. Rosenfield, J. and Susskind, J. (1984). ‘Remote sensing of weather and climate parameters from HIRS2/MSU on TIROS‐N’. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 89, pp. 4677-4697.
EUMETSAT. (2014) .Operating Satellites. [Online] Available at: http://www.eumetsat.int/website/home/AboutUs/WhatWeDo/OperatingSatellites/index.html (Accessed: 3 December 2014)
Met Office. (2014). Satellite Applications. [Online] Available at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/weather/satellite-applications (Accessed: 3 December 2014)