EUMETSAT’s Meteosat series has completed three decades of providing data for climate monitoring. The Meteosat-2, a geostationary weather satellite, had begun providing data for climate monitoring from August 16, 1981.
Meteosat Visible and Infrared Imager (MVIRI), a first generation satellite, collected data on infrared, water vapor and visible channels. The Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) had a 12-channel Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVERI) and provided the data for 30 years. It had channels similar to MVIRI’s. The Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) has a Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) and will also have similar channels.
Meteosat has provided the longest time series of data relevant for climate monitoring in the world. It has served during the severe drought that occurred during the 1980s in Africa’s Sahel area and during the severe heat wave across Europe in 2003. The satellite’s data helped estimate the surface temperatures and occurrences of fires.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, climate normals are averages of data over 30 years. Unusual seasonal behavior is said to occur when deviations occur from these normals. The Meteosat satellite data for 30 years will allow climatologists to construct the normals, but does not guarantee the detection of climate trends.
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the National Meteorological Services use EUMETSAT validated data for climate applications. Since the 1970s, satellites such as the US Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite and other satellites having TIROS operational vertical sounder, solar backscatter ultraviolet and advanced, very high resolution radiometer have also been providing data. Challenges exist in analyzing the data over a long period due to variations in sampling strategies, instruments and calibration algorithms. Jörg Schulz, a climate product expert at EUMETSAT, states that investment for reanalyzing satellite data is worth it as it enables a better understanding of the climate system.