News Release

Data from China's Fengyun meteorological satellites available to global Earth system science applications

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Fengyun meteorological satellites

image: Fengyun meteorological satellites. Green: retired satellites; White: satellites in orbit; Yellow: satellites to-be-launched view more 

Credit: National Satellite Meteorological Center of China Meteorological Administration

Many meteorological satellite networks are constantly scanning Earth, providing vital research data and real-time life-saving weather information. Since China began its initial development in 1970, the Fengyun (FY) series of meteorological satellites have advanced considerably throughout more than 50 years. While FY satellites primarily focus on the atmosphere, they are capable of observing complex variables within the Earth-atmosphere system. Since the initial FY dispatch, China has successfully launched 17 FY satellites, seven of which are currently operating in orbit.

The Fengyun Meteorological Satellite Ground Application System generates more than 90 Earth observation products every day, producing more than 10TB of daily data volume. The FY Satellite Data Center has continuously stored Earth observation data, beginning when FY-1A successfully launched in 1988, to today. More than 12PB of archived satellite data exists in the database through more than 30 years.

"Several approaches for FY satellite data access have been developed for real-time users, scientific researchers, and public users." said Dr. Peng Zhang, the deputy director of National Satellite Meteorological Center of China Meteorological Administration. "All FY satellite data products are open to the world users and free to download."

Dr. Zhang is also the corresponding author of a data description article recently published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. The article showcases FY data products used to observe wildfires, lightning, vegetation indices, aerosol products, soil moisture, and precipitation estimation. All of these metrics have been validated with in-situ observations and have been cross referenced with other well-known satellite products.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and weather forecasting agencies in China have assimilated the wide array of FY data into many numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Since the 1990s, coupled meteorological satellites and numerical models have changed the way scientists understand the Earth. As numerical weather prediction and Earth system models continue to evolve, meteorological satellites will play a more important role in the future of Earth sciences.

"FY is included in the World Meteorological Organization's global operational meteorological satellite sequence. It provides data and products to more than 110 countries and regions as well as 2,700 broadcasting users." Dr. Zhang added. "We have been working with scientists from ECMWF, UK MetOffice, and other countries to improve data verification and application. We welcome scientists and forecasters all over the world to use FY data."


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