GOES-R Geostationary Satellite could Predict Hurricanes

Satellite image of Hurrican karl_540x360
Pictured is satellite imagery of Hurricane Karl, which was the focus of the researchers’ proof-of-concept study. Credit: NOAA

The launch of the GOES-R geostationary satellite in October 2016 could herald a new era for predicting hurricanes, according to Penn State researchers. The wealth of information from this new satellite, at time and space scales not previously possible, combined with advanced statistical hurricane prediction models, could enable more accurate predictions in the future.

“For decades, geostationary satellites such as the GOES series have been the primary tool to monitor severe weather like storms and hurricanes in real time,” said Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and director of Penn State’s Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques. “They have helped people see what’s going on in the present, but, until now, we as a community have not been able to tap into these resources to guide us to predict future severe weather.”

“Hurricane prediction models work by chunking individual blocks of the hurricane and this starts from the initial information that is fed into the model,” said Zhang. “We then run an ensemble of possible outcomes for the hurricane using different variables to estimate uncertainty and this tells us how the hurricane might behave. If we are able to use a higher resolution for the initial state, this could allow us to vastly improve hurricane predictions in the future.”

Story Source: PSU

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