Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre
Andris Vīksna, Head of the Forecasting Department of the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre (LEGMC), explains how the weather service uses satellite data.
09, November 2020
Nowadays it is difficult to imagine the work of a forecaster without satellite imagery — it is one of the most important data sources for analysis of the current synoptic situation.
In 2004 Latvia became a cooperating state of EUMETSAT and this can be determined as the beginning of the intensified use of satellite data in our daily work.
Five years later, in 2009, Latvia signed a full cooperation pact with EUMETSAT and became an official member state. This milestone provided almost limitless possibilities of satellite data usage for the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre, and Latvia as a country.
Regular training organised and supported by EUMETSAT is important for us — almost all of our forecasters have participated in different satellite-related courses.The monthly online meetings, like EUMeTrain weather briefings, are a great place to meet colleagues from other countries and gain some new knowledge about the operational use of satellite data.
Satellite data are among the most important sources of information in the daily work of forecasters — surface observations, model data and satellite-based observations are like the basic trinity of information for the forecasters.
In the last 10 years a lot has changed: we only looked at some infrared and visual pictures in the past, now we mostly use RGB composites and Satellite Application Facilities (SAF) products. Also, the Rapid Scan Service (RSS) is especially important during summer convection.
Sometimes it is difficult for our specialists, who are sitting in the office and analysing surface observations, to get an overview of the whole situation over a large region. Low clouds, areas of fog, potential thunderstorms or squall lines — these are only some of the phenomena that EUMETSAT satellite information helps us to detect and follow the development of more easily.
Science doesn’t stand still and is constantly moving forward, thereby forecasting methods and techniques are improving rapidly, expanding the possibility of satellite data applications in work, such as in the conceptual models.
We have also gained a lot more possibilities with our new meteorological system SmartMet, in which we can overlay satellite data with meteorological radar data, surface observations and NWP models, to get complete picture of what's going on.
It should be noted that forecasters are not the only beneficiaries of the EUMETSAT data and services:
- Hydrological forecasts are another field of work in which we are gradually beginning to use satellite data. Calculations of precipitation amounts in river basins are very important in the surface water runoff forecasting, so data from the Hydrological SAF is a great help.
- In more recent years our climatologists have started to benefit from the satellite data by using products from Climate Monitoring SAF.
EUMETSAT Data Centre also provides an important opportunity for us — simple and fast data ordering helps us to collect materials for analysis and weather simulations, or to show some interesting cases from the past to the young trainees.
Overall, the participation in EUMETSAT gives a versatile spectrum of possibilities for operational work, scientific research and training.