The NOAA Coral Reef Watch program uses products derived from JPSS satellite data to provide current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk for coral bleaching. Bleaching is the process by which corals lose the beneficial algae that give them their distinctive colors. If a coral is severely bleached, disease and death become likely. Healthy coral reefs provide a significant food source for over a billion people worldwide, buffer coastlines from erosion, and also provide jobs and income from fishing, recreation, tourism, and other reef-ecosystem based businesses. Satellite observations indicated that coral bleaching was widespread across the vast waters of the northern Pacific, including the Marshall Islands, Guam, the Mariana Islands, and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
JPSS Satellites Help “Diagnose” Thunderstorms near Guam
A particular challenge with predicting and understanding atmospheric events over the Pacific Ocean is the lack of data. Across the globe, meteorologists launch weather balloons twice daily to collect information about the state of the atmosphere. These data are key to developing local weather forecasts. But it’s not possible to launch weather balloons over the ocean. That’s where the JPSS satellites come in.
On April 2, a timely NOAA-20 pass over a cluster of thunderstorms near Guam allowed for the use of NOAA Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS) profiles to describe the atmosphere in and around this ongoing convection.
NUCAPS combines the information gathered from the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) and Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) instruments on JPSS satellites to produce vertical temperature and moisture profiles of the atmosphere. Like the data gathered from weather balloons over land, this information helps to predict and diagnose severe weather.