U.S. weather org. to buy private satellite data

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Improving weather and surf forecasts in early 2018

Surf News Network: 15 September – Surf forecasting could take a big step forward as the agency responsible for US weather forecasting has entered an agreement to buy weather data from privately owned companies.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association will spend a little over one million dollars to buy weather data from commercial satellite operators GeoOptics and Spire Global according to a story on Planet Ark.

NOAA uses data from government satellites but said in a statement that the new private venture is “a necessary first step to considering sustained operational use of new commercial weather data.”

The two companies will deliver data to NOAA gathered by measuring variations in how GPS radio signals cut through the atmosphere. This can help with a variety of forecasting.

The contract is small, by government standards. The deal with GeoOptics is $695,000 while the one for Spire Global is for $370,000.

GeoOptics’ contract is worth $695,000. Spire’s is for $370,000.

NOAA is turning to private companies to test if the agency can improve its weather forecasts and warnings by adding environmental data from commercial satellites. NOAA manages the nation’s fleet of civilian weather satellites.

“This is the first NOAA purchase of space-based, commercial weather data for the purpose of data demonstration,” NOAA spokesman John Leslie said.

GeoOptics and Spire have until April 30 to deliver data to NOAA from their satellite constellations. Both networks detect weather systems by measuring variations in how GPS radio signals cut through the atmosphere, a technique known as radio occultation.

In a statement, NOAA said the trial run is “a necessary first step to considering sustained operational use of new commercial weather data.”

A report on the project is expected in early 2018.

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