The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)/Office of Research and Application (ORA) together with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) has developed software to select cloud-free fields-of-view (fov's), average these data to 50 km areas, and stage the information to BUFR formatted files. This product provides clear sky information for the five spectral bands from both the GOES-East (8) and -West (10) Imagers. Since early November 2001, CIMSS has produced hourly, hemispheric coverage of these data. EMC and ECMWF have successfully accessed and decoded the CSBT data and bring it into their databases routinely. ECMWF performed a preliminary evaluation of the GOES Imager CSBT and found the water vapor channel (band 3, 6.7 um) to be of good quality. ECMWF is performing assimilation experiments and plans to use these data operationally in the near future. EMC has similar plans; they showed that the cloud-detection required a more stringent technique for the surface-viewing bands. This was completed during the summer of 2002. NESDIS/ Office of Satellite Data Processing and Distribution (OSDPD) is now incorporating this processing system and will shortly begin generating these data sets operationally.
Assimilation of geostationary satellite data allows a more complete description of the atmosphere for initialization of numerical weather models. The current GOES imagers provide information particularly on upper tropospheric humidity structures (water vapor channel) as well as on the surface temperature and near surface humidity (window channels). Compared to polar orbiting satellites, the potential of geostationary imagers lies especially in the high temporal frequency of radiance observations that are available every hour.