Swedish satellite to improve Arctic weather data

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A Swedish-led satellite for improving Arctic coverage has gained support from enough countries within the European Space Agency to receive budgetary approval.

Work can now start on the prototype of the Arctic Weather Satellite, which has advanced sensors to provide information about humidity, precipitation and ice clouds in the atmosphere.

The data provides meteorological institutes the opportunity to improve weather forecasts in Arctic and subarctic areas, and the quality of global forecasts.

Anke Thoss, head of atmospheric remote sensing research unit at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), said, “SMHI has been involved in formulating the requirements for a future meteorological satellite system to meet the needs of the Nordic weather services.”

The Arctic Weather Satellite will meet the need for a greater number of more frequent data deliveries to provide regional weather forecasts that remain accurate by being updated regularly.

According to SMHI, geostationary satellites positioned above the equator have poorer coverage at higher latitudes close to the pole. Extra polar satellites that circulate via the poles will give the Nordic meteorological institutes access to fresh, high quality data.

Adam Dybbroe, a satellite expert at SMHI, said, “If this small, cost-effective platform is a success, we can easily scale up to a full program with many satellites. This can then supplement EUMETSAT’s major satellite program, with the first new generation satellite due to be launched at the end of 2022.”

The first prototype is expected to be delivered in 2023, and the project is in line with Sweden’s Arctic Strategy.

It has received support from the Nordic nations as well as France, Canada, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Austria.

The project has a budget of €40m (US$44.3m).

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