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Next Generation Weather Satellite Could Offer Earlier Warnings

March 3, 2013

Watch the Video: Talking Tornadoes with Tim Samaras ]

Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

On December 26, 2004, we learned of the importance that early warning systems can play in preventing loss of life when the great Indonesian tsunami caught locals and vacationers alike by surprise. In contrast, on March 11, 2011, the early warning system, while unable to prevent tens of thousands of human casualties, was effectively responsible for preventing a greater loss of life on the coast of Japan.

With seismological activity, it is far easier to assess data and predict the catastrophic consequences that may result. The most unpredictable strong storm events may, with the launch of a new satellite system, become easier to predict. The satellite, able to detect lightning within storm clouds, could quite possibly lead to marked improvements in tornado detection. The new technology being developed for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) satellite may help to provide a type of early warning system for severe weather.

Currently, if one finds themselves in the path of a possible tornado, they typically have no more than 14 minutes to prepare and find cover. Both NASA and NOAA are hoping to improve severe weather detection in the hopes more lives and property might be saved. The team working on the new GOES-R system believes their efforts will make it easier to observe thunderstorm development with far greater spatial and temporal detail than has ever been achieved previously. As catastrophic weather events have no known specific season, the team believes that the technology contained within their GOES-R will be able to provide earlier warnings than before, regardless of the time of year.

Residents of the famed “Tornado Alley” used to be able to prepare seasonally for these destructive storms. Until only a few years ago, the bulk of tornadoes occurred in the spring and early summer months. However, this seems no longer to be the case. This was evidenced by a multiple tornado outbreak that occurred overnight on January 29 and 30 of this year. This winter-time outbreak produced several tornadoes across a wide swath of the United States, extending from the Mississippi River Valley all the way over to the Mid-Atlantic States. And again, last month, a series of tornadoes touched down in Mississippi. These storms were responsible for the destruction of 200 homes and multiple injuries.

GOES-R, part of a scientific collaboration between NASA and NOAA, will be the next generation of geostationary weather satellites. The team claims GOES-R will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere. Additionally, the GOES-R will monitor space weather, as well. This new satellite will also become the primary method for detection and tracking of hurricanes and severe weather. GOES-R will aid in the improvement of applications and products that will fulfill NOAA’s goals of Water and Weather, Climate, Commerce and Ecosystem.

Read more: New Satellite Will Provide Earlier Storm Warnings And Space Weather Predictions – Space News – redOrbit.

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