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Advanced Technology Can Help Weather Forecasts, Report Says

Madison, WI, May 13, 2003—A committee of weather experts including UW–Madison’s Christopher Velden has determined that weather forecasts can benefit from more quickly moving advanced technology developed on research satellites to practical use.

The committee of the National Academies’ National Research Council estimates that 40% of the national economy is affected by weather and climate. In their recently submitted report, the committee makes several recommendations on how the nation’s environmental satellite program could benefit by a more fluid transition from research to operational use.

The study was commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), who develops satellite-based methods to observe the Earth, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who operates civilian environmental satellites and distributes information gained from them. The committee was tasked to consider new ideas on how to advance and expedite the process of transferring promising research satellite sensors and data into operations. The report recommends that the two agencies form a closer partnership to expedite major advances to the satellite-based observing system that could lead to improvements in weather forecasting and climate monitoring. The group recommends a joint interagency office be established to facilitate the quick transfer of NASA earth science research to NOAA operational use, when it is appropriate to do so.

Christopher Velden is senior researcher at UW–Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center and conducts meteorological satellite-based research in the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS). CIMSS is the premier institute for scientists around the world to use, study and develop weather satellite data.

Rick Anthes, president of the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research, chaired the NRC committee that produced the report. Others in the group were Susan Avery, president-elect of the American Meteorological Society and director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences; and William L. Smith, Chief Scientist for Atmospheric Sciences at NASA’s Langley Research Center and former director of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. Others include representatives from the American Meteorological Society, Ball Industries, the Naval Research Laboratory and other corporations and universities.

The report is available on the Web and includes historical case studies of research missions and lessons learned from them. It can also be purchased from the National Academies Press. Reporters can contact the National Research Council directly at (202) 334-2138.


Contacts: Christopher Velden, CIMSS, 608-262-9168;
SSEC's Public Information Officer, SSEC, 608-263-3373

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