NOAA seeks feedback in mitigating satellite gap

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is looking for solutions to mitigate an almost certain 17- to 53- month satellite coverage gap in polar-orbiting weather satellites. According to a Nov. 19 notice posted to the Federal Register, it's seeking suggestions from the public on how to best preserve the quality and timeliness of NOAA's numerical weather forecasts.

In an effort to solicit public feedback, NOAA set up a website dedicated to Joint Polar Satellite System mitigation. Visitors to the site can submit observation mitigation, modeling mitigation or assimilation mitigation ideas, as well as view and comment on ideas that have already been posted.

As of Nov. 26 only three ideas had been posted to the site. The agency says ideas with the most potential will first be assessed to see if they merit further study and then be subject to detailed analysis.

"The detailed analysis of high-merit ideas will explore several factors, leading to identification of high-potential ideas for further NOAA investigation," says NOAA on the JPSS Gap website.

In addition to NOAA's request for public comment, the agency commissioned a study to explore the possibility of using "substitute satellite observations, alternative non-satellite data, weather modeling, and data assimilation improvements," according to the notice.

The agency also tapped industry leaders, foreign partners and academia to provide feedback on these possible avenues for sustaining weather forecast data.

In June the Government Accountability Office criticized the agency for not doing enough to mitigate the impending gap. In response to the report NOAA said it would, among other things, establish more complete mitigation plans and develop a report to address the risk of data gaps.

For more:
- read the notice, "JPSS Polar Satellite-Gap Mitigation--Request for Public Comment"

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