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NASA helps take the "whether" out of weather

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  • David
    NEW NASA DATA HELP TAKE WHETHER OUT OF WEATHER PREDICTION Your weatherperson s job just got a little easier, thanks to new data available from advanced
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30 8:20 PM
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      NEW NASA DATA HELP TAKE "WHETHER" OUT OF WEATHER PREDICTION

      Your weatherperson's job just got a little easier, thanks to new data
      available from advanced weather instruments aboard NASA's Aqua
      satellite.

      The new data are the most accurate, highest-resolution measurements
      ever taken from space of the infrared brightness (radiance) of Earth's
      atmosphere. This information can be used to make more accurate
      predictions of weather and climate.

      The data come from two microwave sounding instruments that are part of
      the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) experiment: the Atmospheric
      Infrared Sounder and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit.

      With its visible, infrared and microwave detectors, the AIRS
      experiment provides a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather.
      Working in tandem, its instruments can make simultaneous observations
      from space all the way to Earth's surface, even in the presence of
      heavy clouds. With more than 2,400 channels sensing different regions
      of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, three-dimensional map
      of atmospheric temperature and humidity. AIRS provides information
      about clouds, greenhouse gases and many other atmospheric phenomena.

      "The AIRS experiment is demonstrating high sensitivity and accuracy,"
      said Dr. Moustafa Chahine, science team leader at NASA's Jet
      Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., which manages the
      experiment. "Meteorologists around the world have been eagerly
      awaiting the availability of this processed AIRS data, and are already
      reporting measurable increases in the accuracy of their short-term
      weather predictions. NASA and the world's weather prediction agencies
      can also use AIRS experiment data to better track severe weather
      events, like hurricanes," he said.

      Scientists from various organizations echoed Chahine's
      views:

      * Dr. Tony McNally, of the European Center for Mid-range Weather
      Forecasts in Reading, England, reported the use of AIRS data resulted
      in "a small but consistent positive impact on forecast quality in all
      areas."
      * Dr. Hank Revercomb, director of the Space Science and Engineering
      Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, called the experiment,
      "a virtual gold mine of information."
      * Dr. Louis Ucellini, director of the National Oceanic and
      Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental
      Prediction (NCEP), said adopting data from the AIRS experiment is "our
      number one priority."

      Chahine said more advanced data products are expected to become
      available later this year. The data will include atmospheric
      temperature and humidity profiles, and additional environmental
      measurements on various types of clouds, particularly the thin veil of
      cirrus clouds that cover Earth. He also expects new data about
      concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane,
      carbon monoxide and volcanic sulfur dioxide.

      NOAA is continuing to evaluate the new data, learning how to integrate
      it and gaining confidence in its accuracy. When that process is
      completed this summer, NOAA will begin integrating AIRS data into
      existing weather-prediction models used by NCEP. Six of the world's
      leading weather-prediction centers will do the same. The data will
      also be distributed to the World Meteorological Organization in
      Switzerland, where it will be available to 105 countries.

      Aqua's planned six-year mission will collect data, using the six
      onboard instruments, on global temperature variations, the cycling of
      water, global precipitation, evaporation, changes in ocean
      circulation, and how clouds and surface-water processes affect
      climate. The information will help scientists better understand how
      global ecosystems change, and how they respond to and affect global
      environmental change. For more information about AIRS on the
      Internet,
      visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/airs
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