UK weather: Met Office forecasts chilly temperatures and snow

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Tonight, the European Space Agency is launching the first of a new generation of satellites which they hope will revolutionise weather forecasting in Europe, and help predict sever weather events. The Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) system, launching today, will help meteorologists meet one of their main challenges – the rapid detection and forecasting of severe weather events. ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat) have invited aerospace fans to follow live coverage of the launch on ESA Web TV.

This technology could be critical for saving lives by giving timely warnings to citizens, civil authorities and first responders ahead of a severe weather event like flooding or hurricane. 

ESA noted that data from these new satellites will have a wide range of uses, from enabling aircraft to avoid storms and for earlier alerts of flooding, to more precise monitoring of fires and fog.

They said: “It will help to protect lives, property and infrastructure and bring economic benefits to Europe and Africa.”

Aidan McGivern from MET Office hailed the new technology, saying in a video: “This satellite will provide more frequent images at an increased level of detail, helping EUMETSAT members help improve forecast accuracy, especially for short-range weather forecasting. 

“On the ground, this could mean enhanced capabilities for forecasting extreme weather, for example when there is lots of heavy isolated rainfall. These images mean that we can forecast with even more precision, exactly when and where these will be.”

The MTG-Imager will produce images of Europe and Africa every 10 minutes from the Flexible Combined Imager’s 16 spectral channels. The Lightning Imager will continuously map lightning flashes between clouds and from clouds to the ground.

These will ensure that higher resolution imagery will be available more quickly, in a significant advance for forecasting of rapidly developing severe weather events.

MTG-I1 is the first of six satellites that form the full MTG system, which will provide critical data for weather forecasting over the next 20 years. In full operations, the mission will comprise two MTG-I satellites and one MTG Sounding (MTG-S) satellite working in tandem.

Met Office Head of Space Applications and Nowcasting R&D Simon Keogh said: “We’re hugely excited about the benefits that the MTG-I1 satellite will bring to our forecast accuracy, which will continue to evolve as the subsequent MTG satellite launches take place in the coming years.

“A dedicated lightning imager over Europe and Africa will vastly improve our short-range forecasting, helping us to identify and track impactful storms, particularly rapidly developing, multi-hazard storms that can bring not only lightning but also strong winds, hail and heavy rainfall.

“The improved frequency and resolution of imagery will allow our meteorologists access to the best possible information on the current state of the atmosphere, which is crucial in creating accurate weather forecasts.

“More frequent and detailed imagery will also improve our meteorologists’ confidence around issuing short-range severe weather warnings. We’re excited to keep working with EUMETSAT and ESA as the MTG mission continues in the coming years with further satellite launches.”

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EUMETSAT Director General Phil Evans said: “The Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) system is the most complex and innovative geostationary meteorological satellite system ever built.

“The purpose of this multi-billion-euro investment is to provide meteorological services in our member states with a vastly increased amount of more precise information which will help them protect lives, property and infrastructure. This system will, literally, save lives.”

Paul Blythe, ESA’s Meteosat Programme Manager, said: “After over a decade of close cooperation and hard work of all involved, to see the first of the MTG-I satellites take to the skies is a profound experience for me.

“With the satellite’s innovative design and its novel lightning imager, MTG will push short term weather forecasting into the future. I look forward to seeing how brand-new data from this satellite will be integrated into our sophisticated users’ systems such as the Met Office.”

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