To examine whether the addition of satellite data to forecasting procedures helps forecasters make better forecasts, we studied a meteorological consulting firm and its clients before and after satellite data were used in the preparation of weather forecasts, and whether the clients benefited from this new data source. We found that the satellite data were most valuable when they could be looped to show evolving cloud patterns and enhanced to show brightness differences. The satellite data would have been even more useful if the dissemination system were more flexible and the images were not pregridded.

Our main conclusions are:

  1. Satellite data are most useful to forecasters in data-poor areas and also help to fine-tune forecasts in data-rich areas. Because even slight improvements in forecast accuracy can result in sizable savings for clients, the use of satellite data can produce a significant economic benefit.

  2. Working with satellite data is a valuable educational experience for forecasters and undoubtedly improves their forecasting skills.

  3. Any future satellite data delivery system should take into account the needs and facilities of the user community.

Finally, we have shown that it is possible, using real data in actual situations, to help determine some of the economic effects of a new tool and the ways it can be used to bring about greater public benefits.

This content is only available as a PDF.