Practical Implications of GOES-8                   

Imager | Sounder

Practical implications of GOES-8 improved (over GOES-7) observing capabilities for the Imager include:

* Higher quality imagery acquired more frequently. Improved spatial resolution with better signal to noise of GOES-8 imagery combined with routine 15 minute views of the United States allows GOES-8 to provide better coverage for value added users such as TV meteorologists: weather animation (movies) seen by most Americans during the evening newscasts should be greatly improved.

* Better synchronization with other observations. Separate imager and sounder allow for more flexible scan modes.

* Better cloud drift and water vapor winds. Best water vapor (6.7 um) imagery ever (order of magnitude improvement enables identification of small scale disturbances within larger scale features). Improved winds will allow better hurricane motion predictions, more accurate numerical model forecasts (this has major impact in all areas of our economy and quality of life), and better winds for aircraft route planning.

* Detection of fog. During the day, combined visible and 3.9um imagery will lead to improved fog detection (fog over snow). Fog detection is possible through a combination of the infrared bands; this is important for aviation purposes and marine activities. Continuous monitoring from geostationary view complements polar orbiting determinations of fog.

* Enhanced sea surface temperature monitoring. Continuous monitoring from geostationary view allows maximum opportunity of cloud free skies so that polar orbiting determinations are enhanced. This is important for shipping since SST gradients are related to currents.

* Enhanced land surface temperature monitoring. This is possible with the improved infrared bands and is important for agricultural applications such as early frost warning.

* Timely and better depiction of changes in atmospheric moisture and stability. There is no other sensor that can monitor low-level moisture gradients as well as this satellite. This is very important for severe storm (tornado) forecasting: heat and moisture are the fuel for intense thunderstorms.

* Capability to distinguish ice and water clouds during the daytime, and to detect low cloud and fog versus snow cover. Using the visible, 3.9 micron and infrared window bands GOES-8 can better distinguish between ice, water and super-cooled clouds: aircraft icing is a super-cooled cloud phenomena and is extremely hazardous to small aircraft.

* Low light imaging ability with 10 bit visible data. Extended utilization of one km imagery allows better location of atmospheric events such as fog, haze and pollution, and intense thunderstorms.

* Improved detection of forest fires and biomass burning. Assistance with fire weather activities are possible. GOES-8 can see 20 to 50 acre fires in remote areas before they are detected from the ground.

* Polar viewing capability greatly enhanced. Imagery is now useful well beyond the previous north/south limits. GOES-8 sees clearly up to the Arctic (or Antarctic) circles for improved tracking of icebergs and monitoring of ice and snow cover. This area is an important one for combined polar and geostationary products.

Practical implications of GOES-8 improved (over GOES-7) observing capabilities for the Sounder include:

* First operational geostationary sounder providing full time coverage (no untimely gaps). Much better radiometric performance (signal to noise better by factors of 5 to 10) especially in the water sensitive bands will provide positive forecast model impact.

* Improved Sounder imagery – more spectral bands and no missing data due to “Venetian blinding”.

* Hourly supplement to ASOS and regional models. Accurate delineation of clouds above 12,000 feet is very important to aviation and weather outlooks.

* Better depiction of boundary layer thermodynamics. Using the shortwave bands on the sounder, we expect to improve low atmospheric temperature and moisture determinations which are critical for improved severe weather watch box determination.

* Higher quality thermal gradient winds. This means that improved hurricane trajectory forecasts from cloud motion, moisture drift, and thermal gradient winds are possible. Better definition of landfall has huge financial implications for inhabitants on the east coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

* Improved moisture determinations for precipitable water monitoring. This capability should allow us to better isolate areas where very heavy rains are likely.

* First ever continuous monitoring of ozone. We can watch for diurnal, seasonal, and annual changes in total ozone content in the atmosphere over the northern hemisphere.


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