National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week that America’s newest polar-orbiting satellite was blasted into space to orbit the earth, setting the stage for enhanced weather data NOAA scientists will use to develop life-saving severe weather forecasts days in advance.
The NASA Earth-observing satellite features five new instruments that will collect more detailed information about Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans. NASA will use NPP as a research mission, while NOAA will use the data for short- and long-term weather forecasting and environmental monitoring, according to the press release.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator said, “This year has been one for the record books for severe weather. The need for improved date from NPP and next generation satellite system under development by NASA and NOAA has never been greater. They will enhance our ability to alert the public with as much lead time as possible.”
The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite will orbit the Earth every 102 minutes, flying 512 miles above the surface and monitoring atmospheric conditions below. The first of the NPP data will become available in about 90 days and begin replacing data from the NOAA-19 satellite in the afternoon orbit, passing over the United States during full daylight hours.
Advances Due to Partnership Between NASA and NOAA
Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction and NOAA deputy administrator, hailed the successful launch of NPP as a credit to the long-standing partnership between NOAA and NASA.
“This partnership works,” Sullivan said. “For more than 40 years, we have worked together fielding observation satellites to provide the nation with critical environmental intelligence to protect lives and livelihoods.”
Benefits of Advanced Warnings
In addition to saving lives and property, advanced warning mechanisms can save money for the transportation industry. For example, weather-related incidents and delays cost the airline industry billions of dollars every year. A combination of accurate, advanced forecasting can bring significant savings to the air transport industry, which will help them pass the savings on to consumers.
Another benefit is for farmers, who know how weather patterns at various times affect day to day farming operations. Advisories can prepare them on how to stage and protect crops, agricultural operations in progress, intervene for possible insect and diseases sensitive to weather changes, the immediate impact on crop growth and long range seasonal planning.
The NOAA provides marine fishing conditions for commercial fishermen. The Marine Program deals with marine forecasts (winds and waves) and observations sites in southern Alaska. Quality marine forecasts are of the utmost importance to commercial fisherman, with two of the four largest fishing ports in the United States located in Southern Alaska. Cruise ships also depend upon accurate forecasts during the tourist season. Marine forecasts can be found on the marine page, on the Alaska Weather Line.
The new satellite promises to increase the accuracy and extend the length of time for advanced warnings in order to save lives, property and better serve the needs of commercial interests.