TABLE B.1 Chronology of Early Satellite Sounders Flown on NASA and NOAA Satellites

Instrument

Satellite

Primary Period of Operation

SIRS-A

Nimbus-3

1969-1971

SIRS-B

Nimbus-4

1970-1972

ITPR, NEMS, SCR

Nimbus-5

1972-1975

VTPR

ITOS series

1972-1979

HIRS, SCAMS, PMR

Nimbus-6

1975-1979

HIRS-2, MSU, PMR

NOAA series

1978-1998

VAS

GOES series

1980-1996

HIRS-3, AMSU

NOAA series

1998-present

NOTE: The acronyms are spelled out in Appendix E.

SOURCE: Kalnay et al. (1996).

willingness to use the data in operational forecasts, however, involved negotiations between the data providers (NOAA) and the data users (the National Meteorological Center [NMC]). In 1969, the NMC director told a NOAA scientist, referring to satellite soundings, “If you can make them look like radiosonde data we can use them.”1 It would be many years involving much study before the satellite-derived soundings would be fully employed in operational numerical weather prediction. It is worth noting that NMC began to experiment with the operational sounding data from the very first sounder, the SIRS (Solar Infrared Radiation Station)-A, flown on the Nimbus-3 satellite, less than 2 months after its launch. Data used for the National Center for Atmospheric Research/National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCAR/NCEP) Reanalysis Project reflect sensors flown on NASA and NOAA satellites as indicated in Table B.1 (Kalnay et al., 1996).

The first infrared High-resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS-2) and Pressure-Modulator Radiometer (PMR) and Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) sounding system flown together on an operational satellite was the Television Infrared Observational Satellite (TIROS) Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS), which began flying on TIROS-N in October 1978. TOVS data were made available to the global numerical modeling community in 1979, with the launch of NOAA-6. One of two different types of algorithms was used to transform the sounder radiance observations into temperature and moisture values at given levels. One of these algorithms was based on statistical regression relations between the temperature and moisture values at specific vertical levels of the atmosphere and the radiances observed within all the spectral channels of the sounding radiometers. This was the method used with SIRS-A, Nimbus-6, and the early NOAA TOVS data. Alternatively, a

1  

Personal communication from Ronald McPherson, Executive Director, American Meteorological Society, to committee member George L. Frederick.



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