July 2010, Vol. 22, No.7

Waterline

New Satellite Monitors Weather Conditions in the Eastern United States

The first of three new geostationary satellites (GOES), called GOES-13, officially took over the watch for the eastern portion of North America on April 14. This U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, which was launched in May 2006 and is positioned 35,900 km (22,300 mi) above the equator, monitors weather systems, such as tropical storms in the eastern portion of the United States, Atlantic Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico, according to a NOAA news release.

GOES-13 replaces GOES-12, which NOAA has shifted to provide coverage for South America as part of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), the news release says. The satellites circle Earth in a geosynchronous orbit at the equator, enabling the satellites to maintain a fixed position and continuously monitor the same area of Earth’s surface. The other two satellites in the series, GOES-14 and GOES-15, are not yet activated.

Group on Earth Observations (Geneva) is developing GEOSS to build an integrated, comprehensive, and sustained view of Earth’s systems from thousands of individual Earth observation technologies gathering data about the land, ocean, and atmosphere worldwide. The goal of GEOSS is to provide correct, timely, and sufficient information to the right people, enabling them to make decisions that will protect lives and resources, according to NOAA’s Web site.

Since the first GOES launched in 1974, the satellites have supplied critical data for quick, accurate weather forecasts and warnings, the news release says. Satellite imagery is used to track atmospheric triggers for such weather conditions as tornadoes, floods, hailstorms, and hurricanes.

The satellites can estimate the amount of rainfall during storms to help meteorologists predict and issue warnings about flash floods and snow accumulations, the Web site says. The newer satellites also relay distress signals from emergency beacons and are equipped to monitor solar activity, the news release says.

NOAA manages the program and provides funds, sets requirements for data, and distributes data for the United States. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, Md.) procures and manages the development and launch of the satellites for NOAA on a cost-reimbursable basis, the news release says. 

U.S. EPA Announces National Water Program Research Strategy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Water Program published its first strategy identifying the research needed achieve its goals, meet statutory obligations, and fulfill court mandates, according to the EPA strategy’s Web page. The strategy focuses specifically on clean and safe water, the Web page says.

The strategy identifies the four priority themes of healthy watersheds and coastal waters, safe drinking water, sustainable water infrastructure, and water security. Within each theme, research needs are categorized into the areas of aquatic health effects, human health effects, occurrence and exposure, methods development, and treatment technologies and effectiveness. Through this strategy, EPA aims to ensure that research, science, and technology needs are identified in a comprehensive plan; research partnerships and collaborations are expanded; and private and international research communities are engaged in investigating water research needs, the Web page says. For more information, see www.epa.gov/waterscience/strategy.

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