10D.5A GOES-16: A Game Changer for Hurricane Forecasting

Wednesday, 18 April 2018: 2:30 PM
Heritage Ballroom (Sawgrass Marriott)
Michael Stringer, NOAA/NESDIS, Greenbelt, MD

NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) are a mainstay of weather forecasts and environmental monitoring in the United States. The newest generation of GOES satellites, known as the GOES-R Series, represents significant advancements in the near real-time observation of severe weather. The GOES-R satellite, the first in the series that also includes GOES-S, GOES-T and GOES-U, launched on November 19, 2016. GOES-R became GOES-16 when it reached geostationary orbit and is now operational as GOES-East. The recently launched GOES-S, now known as GOES-17, is undergoing post-launch checkout and validation. GOES-17 will be operational as GOES-West, giving the nation two next-generation GOES to watch over the Western Hemisphere.

GOES-16 is proving to be a game changer for forecasters. The satellite provided critical data during the record-breaking 2017 hurricane season. On September 20, Hurricane Maria knocked out radar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as it neared the island. With this critical technology disabled and a major hurricane approaching, forecasters were able to utilize data from GOES-16 to track the storm in real-time. The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) is able to scan a targeted area of severe weather as often as every 30 seconds, a capability not available with current GOES. This rapid scanning rate allows forecasters to analyze cloud patterns and track tropical storms and hurricanes in real time. ABI also has three times more channels than the previous GOES imager, providing better estimates of the structure of tropical cyclones and their environments. For instance, Band 13, or the “clean” longwave infrared band (not available on previous GOES), is used to monitor clouds and storm intensity. The four-fold improvement in resolution from GOES-16 provides greater accuracy of feature attributes, allowing for better characterization of the eyes of hurricanes.

GOES-16 also carries the first operational lightning mapper flown in geostationary orbit. Data from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) also contribute to hurricane intensity forecasts. Total lightning data from GLM informs forecasters about changes in lightning activity in the eyewall and rainbands of tropical cyclones, which can be used as an indication of intensity changes, especially rapid intensification.

This presentation provides an operational GOES-16 status including imagery and data usage in operational hurricane forecasts. It also includes an update on the launch and checkout of GOES-S as well as the latest on GOES-T and GOES-U development.

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