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Satellite Imagery Experts in Demand

by Terri Gregory, SSEC Public Information Coordinator
December 2000

Also In
the News...


On the Net

In Print

This column includes news received in November.

Weather Research

In the News To demonstrate the need for satellite data of high spectral resolution, scientists have simulated data from a proposed Advanced Baseline Sounder (ABS). Tim Schmit (NOAA’s Advanced Satellite Products Team, stationed at SSEC’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies) and Mat Gunshor (SSEC/CIMSS) animated high-resolution infrared spectra using data from the National Polar Orbiter Environmental Satellite System Atmospheric Sounder Testbed-Interferometer (NAST-I) being developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Image sequences in the infrared were created to complement one generated in the visible portion of the spectrum by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer that flies on NASA’s high-altitude aircraft, the ER-2. The animations include examples from longwave, midwave and shortwave portions of the infrared spectra. The animations also compare selected bands from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) sounder to what an advanced sounder like the ABS would produce.

Elaine Prins (NOAA) and Chris Schmidt (SSEC/CIMSS) are providing fire images for the entire Western Hemisphere. Using a technique called the Wildfire Automated Biomass Burning Algorithm (Wildfire ABBA), the imagery is provided continuously for the past 24 hours in a 3-year effort funded by NASA and in collaboration with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego and the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey. The study aims to determine the distribution and evolution of biomass burning emissions using satellite retrievals and a real-time transport model. On the Web, users can select from animations showing overviews of fire activity in North and South America during the past 24 hours. The user can also select from 35 regional animations.

The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. plans to display in their Amazon exhibit GOES fire products produced with the Wildfire ABBA. The National Zoo has excellent Internet connections and can link directly to the CIMSS biomass burning Web site to access the wildfire animations in real time. The National Zoo may also feature the wildfire product in a Geographic Information System Web-based tool that is being developed.

Elaine and SSEC’s Rick Kohrs gave the University of Kansas Medical Center ten days of GOES imagery and fire products for the spring of 1999 and 2000 for a study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. During the spring months Medical Center staff see a spike in regional particulate concentrations that they believe is associated with agricultural burning. The GOES satellite imagery and derived fire products will be used with conventional meteorological data, hospital admissions data, and air quality data to study the relationship between increased burning activity and health.

Richard Choularton, an Early Warning and Contingency Planning Officer in the United Nations World Food Programme, is using a movie provided by the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones group in a presentation. Richard says the movie, depicting Cyclone Eline that rampaged throughout the Indian Ocean, “looks simply wicked on a projector!”


For More Information Earthwatch


Bob Aune (NOAA) spoke with Earthwatch Radio reporter John Karl for a program on weather prediction. Bob manages the daily CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) forecasts. The CRAS model is one of very few numerical weather forecasting models that include satellite data. Earthwatch wanted to know “why weather forecasts aren’t always accurate.” Bob stressed that accurate and plentiful measurements of the current state of the atmosphere are required before a forecast can be generated. Limitations of the current observing system include spatial and temporal coverage and observation errors. Earthwatch Radio is produced by staff and students at the Sea Grant Institute and UW–Madison’s Institute for Environmental Studies. They cover a wide range of subjects that concern science and the environment and distribute their segments to more than 100 radio stations and other broadcast outlets, primarily in the Great Lakes region.

Weather Guys Steve Ackerman (CIMSS Director) and Jonathan Martin (Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences) appeared on the Larry Meiller call-in show on WHA Radio on Monday, November 27. This, their 20th appearance on the show, featured the usual mix of intelligent questions from the Wisconsin public radio audience.

On the Net

For More Information SeaScape


SeaScape Corporation, maker of the antenna that brings data into SSEC from the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite, displays MODIS imagery on its Web page. Software developed by SSEC’s Liam Gumley enables ground stations to process the data into usable imagery. The International MODIS/AIRS Processing Package (IMAPP) is derived from software developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and is modified to be compatible with direct broadcast data.


A high-resolution MODIS image received through SSEC’s antenna and processed with IMAPP is used on NASA’s Earth Observatory Web site. The New Images page features wildfires burning in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Forest. The true-color image was received November 1.

Le Vendée Globe
(the 2004 site)


Ècole d’Etrun in France is following solo sailor Joé Seeten on his way around the world in Le Vendée Globe 2000. Michel Carpentier and his students are using SSEC’s global montage and Antarctic composite of satellite imagery to show what weather accompanies the sailor.

*the image discussed in this piece is no longer available*

Internets, a Web site billing itself as “Your global link to 1000s of Databases,” starts off with SSEC’s global montage. The montage colorfully presents the world’s weather for their site visitors. Check out their numerous weather databases and pass your mouse over the tiny montage on that page. Unfortunately many of their links are outdated or misspelled.


J.D. Reinke of Lennox, SD was delighted with Steve Ackerman and John Knox’s Web page about the sinking of the ore ship, Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank 20 years ago on Lake Superior in a vicious Great Lakes storm. J.D. said that “a debate at work raised a lot of unanswered questions,” so he searched the Web and found Steve and John’s Web piece. To sum up, he says, “Thank You, for putting worthwhile material on a very interesting and informative site.”

In Print

For More Information Icebergs

Icebergs Closeup

Australian Geographic magazine ran a story featuring iceberg B-15 in its October–December 2000 issue. They based their graphic on an image from the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center’s Web site showing a very early stage of B-15’s progress. The AMRC Web site provides satellite imagery of icebergs as it is available. The AMRC provided images of B-15 and the other Ross Sea icebergs to several more publications, including Focus, an Italian magazine, and National Geographic World.

The first official on-site photos of the huge pieces that were once the even more mammoth B-15 were taken by Antarctic Sun editor Josh Landis. Josh took the photos from a ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft flown by the New York Air National Guard, who provide logistical support to the U.S. Antarctic Program. Two of those photos as well as information from the AMRC Web site were used in a New York Times pictorial on November 28 in “Science Times.”


In Weatherwise for November/December 2000, Lee Grenci’s “Highlight” column uses a GOES Gallery image of thunderstorm activity that spawned the Pine Lake tornado in July. Lee discusses the deceptive practice of combining satellite and radar data in a single image. He dislikes the practice because the two data forms differ in resolutions and area coverage.

Wilt Sanders’ thoughts were included in a Wisconsin Week column of comments (November 29) about UW–Madison’s newly appointed chancellor, John Wiley. Professor Wiley was named chancellor, the university’s highest position, this month. According to Wilt, who chairs the Academic Staff Executive Committee and is an academic staff scientist in the Department of Physics and SSEC, John Wiley, besides being “an extremely capable administrator, … is also a very fair person.” Wilt also stated that he is encouraged by Chancellor-elect Wiley’s “awareness of the need for more professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.”

SSEC provided cloud information to National Geographic magazine for an image comprised of different sorts of satellite data. The colorful image appeared in “New Eyes on the Ocean” in October. The same image appears on the cover of the current brochure for NASA’s High Performance Computing and Communications Program and is used in a prelaunch promotional poster for Terra. According to the HPCC brochure, the image was produced “to demonstrate the capability to produce such images from a single satellite,” although the data comes from a variety of satellite instruments.

Sanjay Limaye took the solar system to Wadewitz School in Racine, WI on November 14 and was caught in the act. Racine Journal Times reporter Phyllis Sides photographed Sanjay during one of the talks he gave throughout the day as part of UW–Madison’s On-the-Road show. Via the Associated Press, the picture appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on November 16.

Direct comments, questions, and information about other SSEC media appearances to SSEC's Public Information Officer. For information about past media appearances, visit the SSEC In the News page.

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