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Clouds: round-the-clock diagnosis

A unique automated information system has been developed by specialists of the Scientific and Research Center for Space Hydrometeorology “PLANETA”. The system is intended for the round the clock tracking of weather in Russia. Speaking more strictly, the system is to monitor meteorological parameters of atmospheric phenomena and cloudiness over the entire territory of Russia up to latitude 68-74 North, the monitoring being done in exceptional detail.

The system based on a number of Russian patents was devised and implemented by a group of researchers and inventors under the guidance of Mikhail Bukharov, Ph. D. (Physical and Mathematical Sciences). The system enables to recognize in the online mode (judging by the information from geostationary satellites) the regions where cumulo-nimbus cloudiness, heavy showers and hail in the clouds are most likely, and to assess precipitation phase, its average and maximum intensity, altitude of the upper bound of clouds, maximum speed of vertical ascending motion in cloudiness and other meteorological parameters. The system does that all automatically and very minutely – every quarter of an hour to within 0.1 degrees (latitude- and longitudewise). The system is called AIS “Meteo-ISZ”.

It should be noted that there is no additional measurement instrumentation in the system. To solve the task, the authors used measurements of intensity of outgoing thermal radiation of the earth surface, the measurements being constantly taken by radiometers in the infrared band from the Meteosat-8, Meteosat-7, Meteosat-5 and MTSAT-1R geostationary satellites. All necessary basic data is available to multiple services all over the world – however, nobody has managed so far to “pull out” so much useful information from this data.

However, the authors do not expatiate on the way they managed to do that. Which particular parameters out of measurable ones are necessary, what calculations are to be performed with them later are the know-how area, the secret that the researchers do not disclose to journalists or do not reveal to full extent even to their meteorologist colleagues. The point is that by measuring the air temperature at the cloud upper bound from satellites and by assessing the air temperature and moisture in the atmosphere bottom layer as predicted, as well as some other parameters, the authors learnt to get a lot of interesting information about the cloud. Figuratively speaking, they learned to diagnose the cloud. That is – to recognize in it the presence of thunderstorms, hail (and the size of hailstones to be expected from this cloud), snowfalls, heavy showers, rain and to assess the most probable average and maximum precipitation intensity. Or they diagnose that the cloud is quite safe – the utmost it can do is to hide the Sun.

The new system possesses two fundamental distinctions from all systems applicable so far. On the one hand, these are the methodology and respective software, which enable recognition of a wider range of atmospheric phenomena, than it was earlier, and the recognition is more precise. By the way, the most informative and precise system of the previous generation was developed not long ago by the same authors. But the new system possesses even more capabilities. Besides other things, the system utilizes the data obtained not from polar orbiting satellites, as it was previously, but form geostationary satellites. Due to that, there is an opportunity to monitor cloudiness and to measure its parameters not once in two hours as previously, but practically in the online mode, every 15 minutes.

As a result, it is possible to create with the help of the AIS “Meteo-ISZ” system on-line maps of meteorological parameters of atmospheric phenomena in cloudiness over the territory of Russia. By the way, this particular system was used by respective services during the Summit that took place this summer in St. Petersburg. Certainly, the system is unable to ‘order’ the weather, but it did provide flight operations officers in the Pulkovo airport with the fullest possible information . And the system never made a mistake.

Nadezda Markina | alfa
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