A forecasting revolution on its way

#Weather, #EUMETSAT, #Image in the news

Published on 12 September 2023

The preliminary data from the MTG-I1 satellite, the first of a new generation of meteorological satellites for the even better monitoring and forecasting of severe weather events, are breathtaking.

They keep the promise of a revolution in weather forecasting and in nowcasting destructive extreme weather events.

As the calibration and validation of the various elements of the spacecraft and ground segment progresses, data captured by the two main instruments on board MTG-I1, the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) and the Lightning Imager (LI), were combined for the first time to highlight their synergies. This first set of animations gives us a preview of the system’s future impact.

“These animations demonstrate how the combination of the two instruments will revolutionise nowcasting and the monitoring of severe thunderstorms,’ explains Phil Evans, Director-General, EUMETSAT. “ I am extremely impressed and am looking forward to the innovative applications that will stem from these data after they become operational.”

The high-resolution visible and infrared channels of FCI allow the precise observation and characterisation of clouds and thunderstorms during the day and night, while the LI instrument detects lightning activity as an indicator of strong atmospheric turbulence and convection.

When fully operational, MTG-I1 will empower meteorologists and scientists to monitor extreme weather events with unprecedented accuracy. The new and more precise data will also enable numerical weather prediction models to be even more accurate, thus increasing the reliability of early warnings for extreme weather events and their ability to protect lives and property.

Combined observation from the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) and the Lightning Imager (LI) on board MTG-I1, starting at 12:00 UTC of the 03/06/2023 and end at 12:00 UTC of the 04/06/2023. This is preliminary commissioning data, not for operational use. Lightning activity is observable the full Earth disc, but is more intense over central Africa, the northern part of South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Cloud and lightning movements are synchronized, following the global circulation patterns (East to West along the Equator, and West to East at higher latitudes). The bright sunglint area, where the Sun's light is reflected by the ocean and small water bodies towards the satellite, traverses from East to West throughout the day.

“The European cooperation on satellite data is crucial for the SMHI and we look forward to following the operationalisation of the MTG-I1. A forecaster always relies deeply on information from weather observations, especially in situations with rapidly evolving and extreme weather events. The information has to be accurate and with high resolution to capture local phenomena, something the MTG-I1 will be able to provide”, says Håkan Wirtén, Director General, SMHI.

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