About this Research Topic
The deployment over the next few years of a constellation of advanced meteorological geostationary (GEO) satellites, with their improved spectral, spatial and temporal resolution sensors, opens up a world of new possibilities for continuous monitoring of the high-temporal dynamics of the land, oceans and atmosphere, addressing a broad range of societal challenges and information needs, particularly in combination with moderate resolution low Earth orbit (LEO) observing satellites. While the primary mission of the new GEO satellites is to support operational meteorological services, they offer opportunities for non-meteorological applications that can enhance and complement the LEO-based applications that have been the primary tool for monitoring of the broader environment.
The era of advanced GEO satellites was ushered in with the launch of Himawari-8 by the Japan Meteorological Agency on October 7, 2015 followed by the launch of GOES-R and FY-4 by NOAA and the Chinese Meteorological Agency respectively in late 2016. Over the next few years advanced GEO satellites will also be launched by the Korea Meteorological Administration and EUMETSAT. All of the imagers have similar capabilities, with typical specifications being 16 spectral bands, spatial resolution of 0.5 km to 2 km depending on band, and variable image cadence from 30 seconds to 15 minutes with routine full disk imaging every 10 to 15 minutes. Thus the assembly is underway of a GEO-ring of advanced imagers with global coverage outside the Polar Regions.
These characteristics of the advanced GEO sensors complement current moderate resolution LEO sensors, approaching the LEO sensors in spatial and spectral resolution, while offering far greater temporal resolution and complementary view and illumination geometries. Furthermore, GEO satellites can fill gaps in LEO coverage due to cloud cover. They are particularly well suited for monitoring rapid changes in the land surface (such as snow, flood, rapid phenology, burns and harvest), ocean (such as ocean colour including algal blooms and sediment plumes, and sea surface temperature), and characteristics of the atmosphere beyond traditional weather phenomena (such as aerosols including smoke and dust events, ozone and potentially air quality).
GEO sensors promise more cloud free observations resulting in better product availability. Cloud or cloud contamination is a major issue in land data production since most land measurements rely on visible and infrared channels. Applications that will benefit include flood development and surface energy balance.
Furthermore, the fixed observation geometry available from GEO orbit provides consistent measurements, reducing uncertainty due to anisotropic surface reflectance. GEO sensors enable precise measurements of diurnal cycles. Diurnal variation such as of Land Surface Temperature and Sea Surface Temperature can only be comprehensively measured from GEO satellite.
Further enhancements in observation capability can potentially emerge from applications that use data from both the advanced GEO and LEO sensors together, by exploiting their complementarities. Possibilities include merging the finer spatial resolution of the LEO sensors with the fine temporal resolution of the GEO ensors, exploiting the availability of simultaneous observations with different view or illumination conditions, and the fusion of GEO and LEO products into global products that address sampling issues at high latitudes. The blending of GEO and LEO satellite measurements aligns with a trend in producer agencies towards enterprise algorithms that exploit data from multiple sources to maximise product quality.
This Research Topic welcomes manuscripts that illustrate the development and use of image-based non- meteorological applications from new generation GEO satellites and their synergistic use with LEO satellites for advanced monitoring of the Earth’s land, oceans and atmosphere. Non-meteorological applications in the context of this Special Issue are considered all applications that can be alternatively described as “beyond weather” applications.
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