The international scientific society SPIE held its annual meeting, Aug. 11-15, at the San Diego Convention Center, and an Aug. 14 plenary session addressed the future of sensors in weather forecasting.
Sid Boukabara, who is the principal scientist for the Center for Satellite Applications and Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, gave a presentation titled “Thoughts on the Future of NOAA’s Satellite Remote Sensing for Weather Forecasting and Environment Monitoring.” Boukabara focused on driving factors for sensor-based weather forecasting and on the challenges and opportunities.
The observation systems will include air-based platforms, satellite systems and ground-based or surface platforms. Boukabara clarified that the designs are envisioned for the late 2020-2030 timeframe so the actual architecture may differ.
The users of the weather forecasting data will include agriculture, disaster preparedness agencies, insurance companies, fisheries and energy providers.
The processing includes calibration, transformation, aggregation, validation and quality monitoring.
Measurements involve several factors.
The specific information being sought determines where on the spectrum the sensor is used.
Drones and private space flight will aid in increased air-based and space-based observation platforms.
Technological advances also create the potential problem of spectrum interference, especially with fifth-generation wireless communications technology.
The purchase and deployment of remote sensing infrastructure must take the market into account.
More specific information and forecasting for smaller geographic areas are among the expectations of improved sensing for weather forecasts.
Data fusion will provide opportunities for added value, although the data must be filtered into relevant information.
Currently approximately 7% of recorded data are selected as suitable for use and approximately 3% of the data are actually used.
“This data solution has some serious challenges now,” Boukabara said.
Another issue is that the increased special resolution will require additional power consumption, and Boukabara predicts that by 2025 the data will exceed the affordable power limit.
The issue of what to deploy will likely involve coordination by the Department of Defense, including NASA, other nations’ governmental agencies and commercial interests.
The first polar-based wind vector wind lidar satellite was launched by the European Space Agency in August 2018.
Certain information currently can’t be measured from space.
“Surface pressure is a big gap,” Boukabara said.
Boukabara expected optimal configurations to be in operation during the 2030-2040 timeframe.
“The remote sensing of the future is going to have to adapt,” he said. “Remote sensors will have to adapt to be really agile.”
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at email@example.com.