Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023
A New Era of Weather Forecasting with Satellite Data

As the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) progresses with the calibration and validation of its spacecraft and ground segment, they have combined data from the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) and the Lightning Imager (LI) on board the MTG-I1 satellite for the first time. These two main instruments showcase their synergies in revolutionizing nowcasting and severe thunderstorm monitoring.

The FCI provides precise observation and characterization of clouds and thunderstorms using high-resolution visible and infrared channels. The LI, on the other hand, detects lightning activity as an indication of strong atmospheric turbulence and convection. The combination of these instruments will empower meteorologists and scientists to monitor extreme weather events with unprecedented accuracy.

The MTG-I1 satellite aims to improve the reliability of early warnings for extreme weather events and protect lives and property. The European cooperation on satellite data is seen as crucial by organizations such as SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute), as the accurate and high-resolution data from MTG-I1 will enhance weather observations, especially in rapidly evolving and extreme weather situations.

An example of the capabilities of the MTG-I1 is demonstrated by a recent storm called Hans. The animation of the storm shows how hot and moist air collided with cooler air in Scandinavia, leading to massive thunderstorms that lasted several days with heavy rains and strong winds. Observations like these provide valuable information for understanding and predicting extreme weather events.

The launch of the MTG-I1 satellite opens up new possibilities for global Earth observation data that can be accessed by the public. These data will play an increasingly important role in protecting populations from the risks of changing climates and frequent extreme weather events.

MTG-I1, operated by EUMETSAT, was launched on December 13, 2022. It was procured by ESA and fulfills the requirements set by EUMETSAT in consultation with meteorological services in its member states. The satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space, with the Flexible Combined Imager as the main instrument. OHB supplied the satellite platform, and the Lightning Imager was developed by Leonardo.

The combination of advanced satellite data and international collaboration will pave the way for a new era of weather forecasting, providing significant advancements and opportunities for early warnings and protection against severe weather events.