The Earth observation and weather forecasting industry are experiencing
rapid technological advancements driven by satellite technology, AI,
and data processing methods. These developments are improving our
ability to monitor and predict weather events, making a significant
impact on various sectors, including defense, aerospace, and disaster
management. Collaboration between government agencies and industry
players is crucial for advancing these capabilities.
The Earth observation (EO) industry continues to grow in technological
innovation, which is driving investment opportunities for commercial
and government applications. Innovations are capitalizing on new satellite
communications that will improve Earth observation and subsequent
"Earth weather and space weather imaging technology has made incredible
leaps forward with each generation of weather satellites, and the
GOES-R series of weather satellites Lockheed Martin has built for
NOAA is no exception," says Jagdeep Shergill, director of geo weather
programs, and lead of all Earth-related weather program execution at
the Lockheed Martin Space segment in Denver.
In its first six months of operation, the U.S. Geostationary Operational
Environmental Satellite (GOES)-16 transmitted more weather data than
all previous GOES-series weather satellites combined. "This is largely
due to the state-of-the-art suite of six instruments aboard those
spacecraft, Shergill says.
When it comes to Earth observation technology, it's important to
note that it's not just a technology that applies deep into outer space;
historically there has been much technology that is not so far away
from Earth. "The origins of remote sensing itself are from the late
19th and early 20th centuries, says Kanna Rajan, a senior scientist
at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., and an expert on ocean
observations and ocean weather. Rajan points out that while rocket
technologies have stabilized and launching Earth observation missions
is relatively common, the fundamental advances in the last 20 years
have come in sensors and in the actual frame of a satellite.
Imagers and radiometers, which use other parts of the electromagnetic
spectrum beyond visible light, have developed substantially for optical
and other means to observe the Earth. "The use of optics to provide
imagery is useful, absent cloud cover," adds RAND's Rajan. "With cloud
cover, other radiometric instruments, where development has been leveraged
from radar-based techniques, have made substantial inroads, not just
for weather, but also for security."
Brown adds that in addition to these advancements, there are significant
improvements in computing capabilities as well.
"Cloud platforms have made it possible to process data more efficiently
and faster," brown adds. "Furthermore, applications can now be containerized,
allowing them to run seamlessly across various computing environments.
artificial intelligence (AI) accessibility has been greatly improved,
thanks to enhanced computing power. AI algorithms now play a pivotal
role in data analysis and will soon replace certain aspects of traditional
physics-based weather models. Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) have
become instrumental in accelerating numerical modeling, leading to
improved forecast accuracy. As computing capabilities continue to advance,
decentralized and quantum computing hold the promise of further enhancing
forecast abilities. These advancements will drive the widespread adoption
of AI capabilities in Earth observation and weather forecasting."
Advancements in data applications
Advancements in the state of technology for Earth observation and weather
forecasting have enabled faster imaging and reporting and sophisticated
algorithms that allow for the merging of observational data giving more
accurate predictions. Notable technologies that are having an influence
include satellite technology; radar systems; numerical weather prediction (NWP);
weather observation systems; remote sensing techniques ; big data analytics
and machine learning; high-resolution imaging; communications; and data
sharing, points out Daryl Madden, vice president geospatial systems at
Textron Systems in Sterling, Va.
"Technology in these areas continues to evolve rapidly, and ongoing research
and development efforts will continue to enhance Earth observation and
weather forecasting capabilities," Madden says. "Here at Textron Systems,
we have been working with various types of geospatial data for over 25 years.
We have continued to apply the latest in commercial satellite technology
into our products to provide actionable insights to our users. The SeeGEO
web-enabled platform has the capability to ingest, display, store and
exploit geospatial data. RemoteView, our premier imagery exploitation
product, allows the imagery analyst to display, measure, compare, and
contrast different modalities of remote sensing data to meet their
specific needs and missions."
Aircraft and Earth observation
In addition to specific advancements intrinsic to technology and data
applications and processing, new aircraft are being built military and
"Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules and P-3 Orion aircraft have long
supported weather reconnaissance and forecasting missions for the U.S.
Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Both turboprop airlifters are known for tracking hurricanes but are used
throughout the year in gathering and conducting weather research," says
Richard Cree, an engineer with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale,
Calif. He specializes in airlift mission capabilities for aerial fire-fighting
and weather reconnaissance.
Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System