Building Partnerships to Address the Challenge of Real-Time Weather Surveillance in Data-Sparse Alaska
Eric Stevens, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
Carl Dierking, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Tom Heinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dayne Broderson, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Will Fisher, University of Alaska Fairbanks

A challenge all operational meteorologists face is to identify and understand the current state of the weather before forecasting the weather of the future.  This challenge is particularly problematic in Alaska where conventional weather observing networks, such as radars, radiosondes, and METARs suffer from sparsity and a lack of representativeness.  Compounding the challenge is that some areas upstream of Alaska, such as the Arctic Ocean and north Pacific Ocean are almost completely devoid of in-situ observations.

Thanks to its high latitude, Alaska’s one advantage to address this challenge is the comparatively high frequency of coverage it receives from polar-orbiting weather satellites such as the Suomi National Polar Partnership (S-NPP) platform.  The Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA), on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has partnered with NOAA to operate two direct-broadcast antennas to receive data from S-NPP and a number of other weather satellites and to deliver the resulting imagery in AWIPS-ready formats in near real time to forecasters at NWS field offices in Alaska.  This local partnership greatly reduces the latency in delivering cutting-edge satellite imagery to NWS forecasters and other users of near real time satellite imagery in Alaska such as the Alaska Fire Service, Alaska Volcano Observatory, and the Department of Defense. 

A brief outline of how the High Latitude Satellite Proving Ground generates and delivers imagery will be presented, with a special focus on the Day Night Band and a handful of multi-spectral products that have proven particularly useful in Alaska.  GINA is also expanding the suite of available products beyond what has traditionally been observed by imaging instruments and adding products derived from sounders and microwave instruments.   Examples of these new products will also be presented, along with some plans for future improvements.