EUMETSAT is Europe’s main source of operational Earth observation satellite data and a major contributor of observations assimilated in ECMWF models. We expect that our next-generation satellites systems will further that trend, and we look forward to continuing our long-standing and fruitful cooperation with ECMWF for the benefit of all citizens.

Phil Evans, Director-General, EUMETSAT

Our long-standing collaboration with space agencies, ESA and EUMETSAT in particular, brings mutual benefits. Here, we mention just some of the highlights from 2021.

Working with space agencies has enabled ECMWF to exploit more fully the benefits of Earth observation data to improve our forecast skill. We also provide vital feedback on satellite data quality and assess the impacts of new and enhanced satellite observations on numerical weather prediction (NWP). Through collaboration we help to guide future missions and the evolution of the satellite observing system and ensure the needs of NWP are well represented.

In 2021 we became an associate member of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, which adds to our strong representation on many international panels and mission advisory groups. We also host EUMETSAT Research Fellows and other visiting scientists, are involved in EUMETSAT Satellite Application Facilities (SAFs) and undertake joint research projects, events and training.

EUMETSAT Research Fellows have contributed significantly to progress towards our ‘all sky/all surface’ data assimilation scheme. We now assimilate EUMETSAT’s AMSU-A data under cloudy conditions in our operational forecasts – a major step forward in the all-sky use of all passive microwave observations and improved observational capability. Joint work to enhance the radiative transfer models of the NWP SAF, which underpin all-sky radiance assimilation work, was also key.

In preparation for the ESA-JAXA EarthCARE mission we have demonstrated the world’s first direct all-sky 4D-Var assimilation of cloud radar and lidar, using historical observations from NASA’s CloudSAT and Calipso missions.

Following the successful demonstration of the benefits to NWP of Doppler wind data from ESA’s Aeolus mission, we are now contributing to discussions about the implementation and economics of an operational follow-on.

In a study funded by ESA, we have provided input on the optimal design of a future constellation of small satellites carrying microwave sounding instruments. Our Ensemble of Data Assimilations was used with simulated microwave data to investigate which set-up of satellites might reduce forecast uncertainty the most.

Collaborations have also continued with NOAA and other partners to provide feedback on satellite data developments, such as evaluation of planned updates to the Atmospheric Motion Vector products from the GOES satellites or assessments of the Clear-Sky Radiance product from GOES-17, which is affected by instrument anomalies.

With CMA and other partners, we have evaluated the world’s first hyperspectral infrared sounder in geostationary orbit (GIIRS on FY-4A), exploring the value and challenges of these new observations, with a view towards the upcoming MTG IRS.

Working with space agenciesThe Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite carries an imaging spectrometer called TROPOMI.
© ESA/ATG medialab

Our work with space agencies is also key to our environmental services under the European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation programme, and we have continued to see the rewards this year.

For example, NO2 observations are now assimilated into Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) forecasts, along with other trace gas observations from the Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI instrument, following several years of work with ESA and its contractors.

The range of datasets available from the Copernicus Climate Data Store has continued to benefit from our links with EUMETSAT SAFs, ESA Climate Change Initiative, NOAA, NASA and JMA.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) is also working with EUMETSAT to reprocess old satellite data from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. This will provide enhanced characterisation of key climate variables and supplement observational data for our next major reanalysis project (ERA6).

ECMWF, ESA and EUMETSAT are working together in preparation for ESA’s high-priority Sentinel expansion missions, which will enhance Copernicus Earth observation capability for a range of environmental applications. Investigations have begun, for example, on how to assimilate observations from the CO2M mission into the CAMS forecasting system, as part of the ECMWF coordinated CoCO2 project that is developing a prototype system for the new CAMS CO2 monitoring service.

AMSU-A = Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A
CMA = China Meteorological Administration
CO2M = Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission
ESA = European Space Agency
EUMETSAT = European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites
GIIRS = Geostationary Interferometric Infrared Sounder
GOES = Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite
JAXA = Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
JMA = Japan Meteorological Agency
MTG-IRS = Meteosat Third Generation – Infrared Sounder
NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US)
NOAA = National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US)
TROPOMI = Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument