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EUMETSAT's Nowcasting SAF

EUMETSAT's Nowcasting SAF (NWC SAF), leaded by AEMET, is included in the Satellite Application Facilities Network that the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) has all over Europe as part of its Ground Segment.

The main objective of Nowcasting SAF is providing products and the corresponding operating services to optimize the use of satellite data for Nowcasting and Very Short Range Forecasting. At present the software of NWCSAF is applicable to the meteorological satellites MSG (Meteosat Second Generation). In the version 2018 it incorporates support for the geostationary satellite HIMAWARI. The Nowcasting SAF software is equally applicable to the polar satellites PPS (Shots-NOAA, EPS-Metop, Suomi-NPP) and in its version 2018 will progressively expand its support for low-orbiting satellites: JPSS, FY-3D, FY -3E.

CRR Product: Deep convection over La Rioja, Navarra and País Vasco
CRR Product: Deep convection over La Rioja, Navarra and País Vasco

The final aim is the distribution of Software Packages to the International Meteorological Community, so that the user can generate the Products at their premises. NWC SAF is responsible for the developing and maintenance of the Products and Software Packages, as well as for the scientific, technical and training support to users.

Information about the requisites for getting the software, as well as images of the products in near real time and scientific documentation is available at:  NWCSAF WEB

Former INM was tasked with the development of Nowcasting SAF in 1997, leading a consortium of Meteorological Services that included, apart from the Spanish one, France (Météo-France), Sweden (SMHI) and Austria (ZAMG) Meteorological Services -Romania (NMA) joins the consortium in 2017-.

From the beginning, NWC SAF has been developing through different phases that are explained below:

  • The Development Phase, 1997-2002, whose main objective was defining, designing and implementing NWCSAF system, both in its engineering and scientific aspects and to define and validate the algorithms that would generate meteorological products in support to Short Range Forecasting.
  • The Initial Operations Phase (IOP), 2002-2007, focused on the beginning of the operation and NWC SAF products validation after MSG and Metop satellites launch.
  • The Continuous Development and Operations Phase (CDOP), 2007-2012, whose main objective has been the consolidation of the SW packages in the interested organisations, by means of promoting its use, supporting users and updating the SW according to scientific development and validation activities focused on the final user.
  • The Second Continuous Development and Operations Phase (CDOP-2), 2012-2017, is focused on the extension of the SW packages and products to other geostationary and polar orbiting satellites, as well as on the preparation for next generation of European satellites: MTG (Meteosat Third Generation) and EPS-SG (EUMETSAT Polar System - Second Generation).
  • The Phase of Continuous Development and Operations 3 (Continuous Development and Operations Phase 3, CDOP-3), 2017-2022, will focus on strengthening the consolidated work in the previous phases and, among other objectives, take the first steps to produce software to generate MTG-IRS day-2 products and to investigate potential use of MTG-IRS to generate additional extended products for the Nowcasting community.
Some of the products developed by Nowcasting SAF
Some of the products developed by Nowcasting SAF

Nowcasting SAF tasks can be divided into four categories in AEMET:

  • Scientific and Meteorological developments: AEMET is in charge of the Precipitation, Clear Air Instability and Winds products development.
  • Software engineering, a crucial aspect of the project due to the high quality standards required, because of SW portability requirements for its using in different environments and because of the need of integration the different consortium member's contributions.
  • Project Managing and Coordination, both with EUMETSAT and with every consortium member. This activity is especially important for AEMET as leading entity and final responsible of the Project before EUMETSAT.
  • User's Support in scientific and technical aspects, as well as in everyday operation through the Helpdesk tool ( NWCSAF WEB), and also by means of Training Courses.

By June 2018, there are 128 authorised users, mostly from European, Asian and American Meteorological Services, Universities and Research Centres. The authorization is made online from the web page.

NWC SAF is an International Project, so that all the work, documentation, meetings, communication with users, etc? Is held in English. So, all the NWCSAF staff must have a very high English level.

NWC SAF product developers, both in AEMET and the Consortium Meteorological Services, are highly qualified, and must be aware of the state of the art knowledge and development of their specific responsibility area, and must definitely have a very high level in Atmospheric Physics, Meteorology and Software Developing for Data and Image Processing, among others. 

The AEMET team consists of a Project Director, a Chief of Operations, a Chief of Science and Engineering and four Developers, with the support of the general staff of AEMET and support in private sector engineering.

NWCSAF Project is completely structured into actions that have to be done within the closing date agreed, being reviewed in the different Project Team and Steering Group Meetings, where its fulfilment is required. Products and System Components are thoroughly verified and validated, being liable to timely reviews by external reviewers.

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