Events Calendar

Satellite Remote Sensing - Applications to Meteorology

This is a past event.

Monday, November 9, 2009, 4 pm

Event Details

This is a past event.

Steve Ackerman
Director, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies
Professor, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Madison, WI

The first successful meteorological experiment conducted from a satellite was launched on Explorer VII on 13 October 1959, fifty years ago last month. Explorer VII carried an instrument that measured Earth’s heat balance. Today, we take for granted the bird’s-eye view of developing weather systems that satellites provide. Forecasters use these orbiters to monitor shifting weather systems including thunderstorms, hurricanes, and extratropical cyclones. And, thanks to the web, anyone can access quality satellite images with just a few mouse clicks. Today, more than 120 U.S. space-based instruments observe our planet. We have come a long way in 50 years.

This presentation will focus on the observations of the atmosphere. We’ll begin by exploring how current satellite observations are used to derive meteorological information for weather applications, including atmospheric temperature and moisture, winds and cloud properties. We’ll discuss some of the historic applications as well as current methods for deriving these properties. We’ll discuss issues surrounding the validating of these satellite derived products. While we’ve come a long way, we are still not observing some critical components of the hydrological cycle. As an example, we’ll explore in detail new measurements being developed for future satellite measurements that will provide new information on cloud properties.

While the US geostationary satellite instruments have not changed in 20 years, new applications of those observations are continually being developed. Examples of new applications that are being developed to support aviation forecasting will be presented, including turbulence and convective initiation. We’ll end by reviewing the US plans for its next generation weather satellite, and show some simulations of those measurements.


T. J. Schmit, M. M. Gunshor, W. Paul Menzel, Jun Li, Scott Bachmeier, James J. Gurka, 2005: Introducing the Next-generation Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on GOES-R, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., Vol 8, pp. 1079-1096.

Liu, C-Y, J. Li, E. Weisz,. T. J. Schmit, S. A. Ackerman, and H-L Huang, 2008:Synergistic use of AIRS and MODIS radiance measurements for atmospheric profiling.GRL, 35, L21802, doi:10.1029/2008GL035859., 1057-1072

Ackerman, S. A., R. E. Holz, R. Frey, E. W. Eloranta, B. Maddux, and M. McGill, 2008: Cloud Detection with MODIS: Part II Validation. JTECH.25, 1073-1086

Uhlenbrock, N. L., K. M. Bedka, W. F. Feltz, and S. A. Ackerman, 2007: Mountain Waves Signatures in MODIS 6.7 micron Imagery and Their Relation to Pilot Reports of Turbulence. Wea. Forecasting. 22, 662-670.

Host Bill Rose (

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