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Steven J. Nieman, W. Paul Menzei, Christopher M. Hayden, Donald Gray, Steven T. Wanzong, Christopher S. Velden, and Jaime Daniels

Cloud-drift winds have been produced from geostationary satellite data in the Western Hemisphere since the early 1970s. During the early years, winds were used as an aid for the short-term forecaster in an era when numerical forecasts were often of questionable quality, especially over oceanic regions. Increased computing resources over the last two decades have led to significant advances in the performance of numerical forecast models. As a result, continental forecasts now stand to gain little from the inspection or assimilation of cloud-drift wind fields. However, the oceanic data void remains, and although numerical forecasts in such areas have improved, they still suffer from a lack of in situ observations. During the same two decades, the quality of geostationary satellite data has improved considerably, and the cloud-drift wind production process has also benefited from increased computing power. As a result, fully automated wind production is now possible, yielding cloud-drift winds whose quality and quantity is sufficient to add useful information to numerical model forecasts in oceanic and coastal regions. This article will detail the automated cloud-drift wind production process, as operated by the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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W. Paul Menzel, Frances C. Holt, Timothy J. Schmit, Robert M. Aune, Anthony J. Schreiner, Gary S. Wade, and Donald G. Gray

Since April 1994 a new generation of geostationary sounders has been measuring atmospheric radiances in 18 infrared spectral bands and thus providing the capability for investigating oceanographic and meteorological phenomena that far exceed those available from the previous generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). Menzel and Purdom foreshadowed many of the anticipated improvements from the GOES-8/9 sounders. This article presents some of the realizations; it details the in-flight performance of the sounder, presents both validated operational as well as routinely available experimental products, and shows the impact on nowcasting and forecasting activities.

For the first time operational hourly sounding products over North America and adjacent oceans are now possible with the GOES-8/9 sounders. The GOES-8/9 sounders are making significant contributions by depicting moisture changes for numerical weather prediction models over the continental United States, monitoring winds over oceans, and supplementing the National Weather Service's Automated Surface Observing System with upper-level cloud information. Validation of many sounding products has been accomplished by comparison with radiosondes and aircraft measurements. Considerable progress has been made toward assimilation of soundings from clear skies and cloud properties in cloudy regions in operational as well as research forecast models; GOES-8/9 moisture soundings are now being used in the operational Eta regional forecast model.

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