8.6 15 Years of Satellite-Derived Polar Winds and Counting: Products and Impacts

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 11:45 AM
620 (Washington State Convention Center )
Jeffrey Key, NOAA, Madison, WI

Fifteen years ago an automated, satellite-derived, polar winds product was developed. At the time, wind information was routinely generated using geostationary satellite data over the tropics and midlatitudes, but no such product existed for polar-orbiting satellites over the high latitudes. The first polar winds product used imagery from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA satellites. Next came winds from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on a variety of NOAA satellites, then AVHRR on EUMETSAT satellites. More recently, the product was developed using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) satellite. VIIRS winds will continue into the foreseeable future with the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) series. Today, all of these polar winds products are generated operationally in near real-time by NOAA and at direct broadcast sites in the Arctic and Antarctic. New products are also being prototyped for use with future satellites, notably a combined polar-orbiting and geostationary product that will use GOES-R, and a combined S-NPP/JPSS-1 product. An historical AVHRR winds product has also been developed for use in atmospheric reanalyses.

The sustainability of the product in NOAA operations and its extension to additional platforms over the last 15 years is due in part to the positive impact in NWP forecasts. Beginning in 2002, two numerical weather prediction centers demonstrated a positive impact of the MODIS winds on forecasts not only in the polar regions, but globally. A number of NWP centers worldwide quickly began using the polar winds in their operational systems. At least one NWP center even demonstrated an improvement in hurricane track forecasts when the polar winds were assimilated. Today, 13 numerical weather prediction centers in nine countries use various combinations of the MODIS, AVHRR, and VIIRS winds in their operational systems. All continue to report positive impacts on weather forecasts.

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