SSEC News Archive

Highlights from 2016


As 2016 nears its end, we’ve selected a dozen stories across a range of topics that highlight important research, education, and outreach at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) and its Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) — along with our ongoing commitment to the Wisconsin Idea and to sharing our knowledge as broadly as possible.

We’ll return early in 2017 with more science news from SSEC and CIMSS. Until then, season’s greetings and best wishes for the new year!


  1. Weather in Motion: A 50-year lookback at Earth’s first
    movie debut

    On December 7, 1966, the world’s first geosynchronous Applications Technology Satellite (ATS-A) launched from its pad at Cape Canaveral. Images from ATS-I—and the movies constructed from them—would revolutionize the way we look at Earth and its weather. SSEC takes a look back at the role its founder, Verner Suomi, and colleagues played in advancing meteorological satellite technology and atmospheric research.

    Published: December 7, 2016
  2. GOES-R extends its mission from orbit to classroom

    After a successful mid-November launch, GOES-R (now known as GOES-16) has reached its destination in geosynchronous orbit. While researchers and engineers work to get systems online, school teachers from around the country are already taking their experiences from the launch back to the classroom.

    Published: December 2, 2016
  3. New AERI research at CIMSS to support operational weather forecasters

    SSEC’s ground-based instrument to measure temp, water vapor, and trace gases in the troposphere – the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) – could soon be part of daily operations of the National Weather Service (NWS). An AERI project led by Tim Wagner, scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), has been chosen for funding by NOAA to accelerate technological advances into application.

    Published: November 16, 2016
  4. Improving probabilities: Predicting severe weather in the GOES-R era

    NOAA Advanced Satellite Products Branch (ASPB) scientist Mike Pavolonis, stationed at SSEC/CIMSS, leads a team of researchers who have developed ProbSevere, a statistical storm-prediction model. Pavolonis discusses how the model works and is used by forecasters, as well as the advances that will be possible with GOES-R data and promising new avenues of research.

    Published: November 2, 2016
  5. HYDRA2: From seminar tool to data visualization success story

    SSEC software developer Tom Rink advances the Hyperspectral Data Viewer for Development of Research Applications (HYDRA) software, a unique visualization tool allowing users to interrogate and analyze multispectral and hyperspectral data, with a new purpose to accommodate the latest hyperspectral meteorological satellite instruments – leading to the release of HYDRA2.

    Published: October 25, 2016
  6. Lake Michigan Ozone Study 2017: Collaborative field campaign will pursue sources and transport of ozone

    The Lake Michigan Ozone Study 2017 was commissioned by state and regional groups to fill important knowledge gaps about ozone formation along the lakeshore. A NOAA Advanced Satellite Products Branch scientist at CIMSS is part of the team planning to collect and analyze observations of ozone and its precursors over Lake Michigan during a field campaign next summer. That research will inform states as they develop plans to mitigate air quality problems.

    Published: August 22, 2016
  7. Newly updated CIMSS algorithm shows total precipitable water over land, sea

    Scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) have upgraded an algorithm they developed nearly a decade ago to provide weather forecasters with seamless, satellite-based total precipitable water (TPW) values from around the globe--over sea and, now land.

    Published: July 26, 2016
  8. Data 'rescue' project blends analog, digital technologies

    By special request from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center last fall, SSEC Data Center staff spent months reading, digitizing, and decoding more than 1,400 nine-track tape reels containing Synchronous Meteorological Satellite (SMS) data from the 1970s and ’80s.

    Published: July 7, 2016
  9. SSEC research interns forge studious camaraderie

    These atmospheric scientists are using the skills and interests developed as students to pursue real-world applications and face the challenges of full-time research, from studying clouds, land-surface emissivity, or Arctic sea ice to developing software to validate the collocation of multiple satellites.

    Published: May 19, 2016
  10. UW satellite pioneer garners top atmospheric sciences award

    Senior SSEC Scientist William Smith lands the AIAA 2016 Losey Atmospheric Sciences Award, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the atmospheric sciences through his “visionary and pioneering hyperspectral resolution sounding techniques.” Over the last 50 years, Smith’s work has advanced techniques that are being used on current polar-orbiting satellites and planned for future polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites.

    Published: April 1, 2016
  11. UW researchers part of new NASA mission to study tropical cyclones

    Researchers at SSEC are part of an investigation team selected by NASA to put new scientific instruments in low-Earth orbit to study the development of tropical cyclones. The award will bring $3.2 million to UW-Madison over a 5-year period, and will utilize an array of 12 “CubeSats” to conduct rapid sampling of the atmosphere.

    Published: March 14, 2016
  12. SSEC scientists join forces to visualize satellite weather data

    SSEC Computer Engineer Ray Garcia assembles a team to create a user-friendly visualization system, designed to quickly educate and train newcomers to satellite remote sensing and usage of its data.

    Published: January 26, 2016