SSEC supports National Weather Service forecasting


Forecasters can improve their predictions by comparing different types of weather data. These four images show the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. The data are from (clockwise) GOES imager, MODIS, GOES sounder, and the CRAS model.



A forecaster at the Milwaukee/Sullivan NWS office uses SSEC data in AWIPS.

In pursuit of a shared goal of improved weather prediction, research scientists at SSEC/CIMSS have forged a strong collaboration with operational forecasters at National Weather Service (NWS) offices around Wisconsin. CIMSS researchers integrated several types of new satellite data into the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), which NWS uses to process and analyze weather data.


This MODIS image depicts sea surface temperatures on the East Coast. On January 23, 2007, a forecaster compared predictions from different numerical models to a similar MODIS image and noticed that one model more accurately showed the cloud cover over Wisconsin. With this information, the forecaster was able to decide which prediction model would provide a more accurate 24-hour forecast.

Facilitated by SSEC’s Data Center, NWS forecasters now have access to imagery from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument aboard NASA’s polar-orbiting satellites, as well as some forecasting products from the CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) model. Additionally, forecasters can use new products from the sounder instrument aboard the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). 

Since the initial integration during summer 2006, references to SSEC/CIMSS data have appeared in many NWS forecast discussions. Overwhelmingly positive feedback has perpetuated this collaboration between researchers and operational forecasters. The group from CIMSS plans to work with forecasters to integrate more products into AWIPS including sea surface temperature data over Lake Michigan; model forecast imagery and validation; and convective initiation over Wisconsin. CIMSS researchers will also begin to develop a tool to help the forecasters with short-term predictions of fog and low-ceiling clouds.


Last Updated:
March 28, 2007
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