Satellite Imagery Restored in Time for the Typhoon Season

Collaboration between the Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) in Boulder, Colorado, and the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) in Taipei, Taiwan, has been a 13-year success story in technology transfer of weather forecasting applications. A strong forecasting infrastructure has been built at CWB including meteorological workstations based on AWIPS technology, numerical prediction models, high-performance computing, improved observing systems, and greater data collection.

When the skilled forecasters at the Taiwan CWB predict the weather, everyone listens. Taiwan lies in the track of severe tropical storms and on average is hit by six typhoons each year, endangering its 22.5 million residents and costing millions in damage. Satellite data covering the Tropical Western Pacific is very important in helping provide accurate warnings of approaching typhoons. Since 1995 CWB has relied on images from the Japanese Geosynchronous Meteorological Satellite (GMS-5) to provide this potentially life-saving information. However, with GMS-5 nearing the end of its useful life, and its replacement about a year away, the Japanese government contracted with NOAA/NESDIS to move GOES-9 westward and install a relay ground station in Alaska to furnish the necessary satellite coverage for the Western Pacific. The Taiwan CWB then needed a satellite ground station that could receive and decode the GOES-9/GVAR (GOES variable resolution) data. The Central Weather Bureau contacted Dr. Fanthune Moeng, program manager of the CWB Technology Transfer project at FSL, regarding this problem. To help create a solution, Dr. Moeng brought together a team of FSL experts including Dr. Russell Chadwick, chief engineer; Robert Lipschutz and Paul Hamer, systems analysts; and Dr. Dan Birkenheuer, meteorologist. After outlining their plan to CWB management in Taiwan, the FSL team helped devise a rapid process to procure everything required for developing the capability to receive and decode the downlinked signal from GOES-9. FSL provided the necessary software support to routinely acquire the GVAR data and place them into the CWB operational data stream. The entire capability has been tested and is working satisfactorily. The Object Data System (ODS), developed at FSL, is a key element in the rapid deployment and successful operation of the CWB GOES-9 receiving system. Employing the latest software technology, ODS provides flexible, advanced data-acquisition and processing capabilities for a large variety of meteorological data. Completion of this cooperative effort ensures that the Taiwanese people will be warned of approaching storms during the upcoming typhoon season.

Contact information
Name: Fanthune Moeng
Tel: 303-497-6065