A stunning first video from a new spaceborne instrument designed to improve thunderstorm monitoring shows lightning crackling over Europe, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean.
The images were taken from geostationary orbit about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth by the Meteosat 12 satellite operated by the European Meteorological Satellite Development Agency (EUMETSAT). earth. This altitude is very important to weather forecasters because the speed of satellites orbiting the planet in this region matches the rotation of the Earth. As a result, this orbiting satellite will have a constant view of part of the Earth, allowing meteorologists to observe how weather phenomena change in real time.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites have used lightning imagers before, but Meteosat 12 is the first to provide this kind of information to European weather forecasters.
Related: 10 devastating signs of climate change that satellites can see from space
The satellite is the first satellite in the new Meteosat 3rd generation family of European weather stations. Released in December 2022 This will help continental meteorologists improve their predictions of extreme weather events.
“Severe storms are often preceded by sudden changes in lightning activity,” said Phil Evans, director of Eumesat. in the statement. “By observing these changes in activity, Lightning Imager data will give forecasters more confidence in predicting severe storms.”
As climate change As the global climate warms, torrential rains, hail, and severe thunderstorms with strong winds will become more common in Europe and around the world. Meteorologists hope to be better able to anticipate these events and disseminate earlier and more accurate warnings to protect people in vulnerable areas.
“Thunder is a strong indication that severe weather is occurring,” Evans added at the conference. “Where the heaviest rain falls, thunder often occurs.”
Eumetsat-12’s Lightning Imager instrument consists of four cameras and can detect atmospheric flashes over parts of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. The data will be provided not only to weather forecasters in Africa, but also to airliners on transatlantic flights to improve safety.
“The Lightning Imager has four cameras, each capable of capturing 1,000 images per second, day or night, and can detect even a single lightning bolt faster than the blink of an eye,” said the project for aerospace company Leonardo. Engineering Manager Gia Pastorini said. He said in the same statement that he manufactured the equipment. “Thanks to specific algorithms, the data is processed onboard so that only useful information is transmitted to Earth, supporting the development of more accurate weather forecasts, as well as researching meteorological phenomena and air transport safety. also contribute.”
for Europe warming twice as fast as other continentsAccording to European environmental watchdog Copernicus, having timely and accurate information about impending disasters can save lives and reduce destruction.
For example, in the summer of 2021, flooding will occur due to heavy rain. Nearly 200 dead in Germany It is said to be the worst natural disaster in the country in 60 years.
“In a world where severe weather events are becoming more intense due to climate change, equipment such as: [Lightning Imager] It will become increasingly important,” Evans added at the conference.
Eumetsat-12 is the first of a family of six new weather satellites that will strengthen Europe’s defenses against weather disasters caused by climate change. His second satellite in the satellite constellation will follow its sibling into orbit next year with a new European satellite. Ariane 6 Heavy-lift rockets expected to be put to practical use Debut flight later this year.
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