PASADENA, CALIF., and LEXINGTON, MASS., January 6, 2015 — GeoOptics, the satellite-based environmental data services company, in cooperation with Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), the award-winning environmental research and development company, has announced the initial results of an Observing System Simulation Experiment (OSSE) showing the reliability of radio occultation data in improving predictions of severe weather and flash flood events.
Using state-of-the-art weather prediction models and data assimilation techniques, AER evaluated the potential benefit of observing Earth’s atmosphere with a vast future constellation of many hundreds of orbiting Global Navigation Satellite System – Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) receivers. As a case study, the model used the convective system that brought severe weather to Oklahoma in 2013, which included an Enhanced Fujita Scale-3 (EF3) tornado and heavy rains.
“The improved characterization of moisture in the lowest 4-5 km of the atmosphere is very significant and, working with our colleagues at AER, we believe quite a rigorous scientific conclusion,” said Conrad Lautenbacher, GeoOptics CEO. “We see commercial provision of GNSS-RO as a valuable complement to public sector systems and a reliable, low-cost way to achieve the levels of scale tested. We are very excited by the results.”
Through collaboration begun in 2014, the two companies set out to assess the impact of vastly increased numbers of GNSS-RO profiles on regional weather forecasting within the context of a global weather satellite system. Oklahoma was the region of focus of the study, an area with a history of severe weather phenomena. Today’s total global GNSS-RO profiles number approximately 1,800 per day, of which 0.64 profiles per day are readings taken over Oklahoma. In the study, AER and GeoOptics modeled from 50,000 to 2,000,000 global profiles per day through the deployment of the planned CICERO satellite constellation. Such large scale would correspondingly increase the profiles per day over Oklahoma to between 17 and 700.
Results of the study can be found on the websites of both companies. Please see http://www.aer.com/news-events/resource-library/severe-weather-study-shows-potential-gnss-ro and www.geooptics.com.
In a statement, Ron Isaacs, AER president, added, “We see commercial remote sensing and particularly the GNSS-RO technology as a paradigm change in developing and maintaining a cost-effective, next-generation operational observational infrastructure for environmental prediction. The superb GNSS-RO technology knowledge base at GeoOptics provides an ideal and exciting complement to AER’s decades-long experience in today’s operational remote sensing and weather prediction practices, which include the current use of GNSS-RO sensing.”
GNSS-RO profiles provide measurements of atmospheric temperature, moisture, and pressure with a precision unrivaled by other space-based techniques. The RO sensor gathers this information by precisely observing perturbations imposed on ubiquitous GPS radio signals as they pass through the atmosphere. Today, nearly 3,000 organizations in more than 80 countries use RO data in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) and research. NOAA’s own studies show that more accurate mid- to long-term forecasts can be made up to 15 hours sooner using the data collected from the current limited set of experimental GPS-RO sensors.
GeoOptics plans to launch an array of powerful GNSS-RO sensors on its CICERO constellation of low-Earth-orbiting satellites. The rollout of the constellation will begin in the third quarter of 2015 and will deliver more than 50,000 global profiles per day when fully deployed. As demand grows, the 24-satellite CICERO constellation will be expanded to carry additional and complementary instruments, such as scatterometry and gravity sensors.
“GeoOptics will advance a small satellite observing model that starts with GPS radio occultation,” Lautenbacher added. “We believe an integrated private company like ours can deploy such systems for a fraction of current costs to the government.”
Founded in 2006 by Dr. Thomas Yunck, GeoOptics Inc. is an environmental data services company and provider of space-based Earth remote sensing data and services. GeoOptics plans to collect diverse information on the Earth’s atmosphere in near real-time starting in 2015 with an initial six small satellites carrying unique and powerful GPS-RO sensors in a constellation known as CICERO. Data from CICERO will feed NWP models for operational weather to help manage the effects of the Sun on the Earth’s infrastructure. CICERO will support the study of many interrelated environmental processes and the ability to predict the course of environmental change. Governments and industries around the world will use CICERO data in such diverse areas as agriculture, energy, intelligence, defense, air and marine transportation, resource exploration, insurance and risk management, and emergency preparedness. Additional information about the company can be found at www.geooptics.com.
Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) provides science-based solutions to global environmental challenges. AER’s internationally renowned scientists and software engineers collaborate to transform state-of-the-art predictive science and analytical tools into practical systems that address both civilian government and defense needs for geophysical understanding, computer simulation, and forecasting. AER customers include government agencies and national laboratories, aerospace and defense contractors, and academia. Areas of expertise comprise atmospheric and environmental science, remote sensing, meteorology, oceanography, space science, climate change, and software engineering. AER is a division of Verisk Climate, a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq:VRSK) business. AER was established in 1977 and is headquartered in Lexington, Mass. Visit http://www.aer.com.
President, GeoOptics Inc.
Office: +1 610.642.1293
Vice President, Marketing, AER