August 2013

New Satellite Instrument Now Providing Critical Data to NOAA's National Weather Service

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In this CrIS image, the orange colors represent very warm sea surface temperatures, while magenta represents both very cold temperatures, as well as high-altitude cloud tops. When all CrIS channels are used, three-dimensional views of atmospheric temperature and moisture can be produced. (CREDIT: NOAA/NASA)
Data from a key satellite instrument known as the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), flying on the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite, is now being incorporated operationally for the first time into NOAA's weather prediction models at the National Weather Service (NWS).

CrIS provides more accurate, detailed atmospheric temperature and moisture observations for short and long-term weather applications and represents a significant enhancement over NOAA's legacy infrared sounder—High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS).

"The operational use of CrIS in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Global Forecast System is a major milestone," said William Lapenta, Acting Director of the NCEP Environmental Modeling Center. "We are now assimilating data from both the CrIS and ATMS (Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder) instruments onboard the Suomi NPP satellite. Together, CrIS and ATMS are providing valuable atmospheric observations that will help to improve the skill of the NWS global numerical weather prediction model forecasts."

The CrIS instrument will also fly on the upcoming JPSS-1 satellite mission, scheduled for launch in 2017, and the JPSS-2 satellite mission, scheduled for launch in 2021. This will ensure the valuable measurements provided by the instrument will be sustained well into the future.

NOAA's JPSS partners with the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) to provide advanced infrared and microwave sounder data to the National Weather Service (NWS) and international weather prediction centers from two different polar satellite orbits, ensuring a robust global observing system.

CrIS is the Cross-track Infrared Sounder. CrIS is the first in a series of advanced operational sounders that provides more accurate, detailed atmospheric temperature and moisture observations for weather and climate applications. This high-spectral resolution infrared instrument measures the three-dimensional structure of atmospheric temperatures, water vapor and trace gases. It provides more than 1,000 infrared spectral channels at an improved horizontal spatial resolution and measure temperature profiles with keen vertical resolution to an accuracy approaching 1 Kelvin (the absolute temperature scale). This information helps significantly improve prediction, including both short-term weather "now casting" and longer-term forecasting. It also provides a vital tool for NOAA to continuously take the pulse of the planet and assist in understanding major seasonal and multi-year shifts. The CrIS instrument is developed by ITT Exelis, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.