COSMIC Goes Down Under for IROWG-4 and COSMIC-2!

The 4th International Radio Occultation Working Group Meeting (IROWG-4)

Meeting attendees
Attendees of the 4th IROWG in Melbourne, Australia

Representatives from the UCAR COSMIC Program (Rick Anthes, Dave Ector, John Braun, and Bill Schreiner) travelled to beautiful Melbourne, Australia in April to participate in the 4th International Radio Occultation Working Group (IROWG-4) meeting. The IROWG is a permanent Working Group of the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) and is co-sponsored by CGMS and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The IROWG serves as a forum for operational and research users to further exploit radio occultation (RO) data. The IROWG meetings are organized into two areas: 1) science meetings where current research is presented by attendees, and 2) programmatic sub-group meetings where attendees formulate recommendations for consideration at annual CGMS meetings. These recommendations are considered by the CGMS working groups and plenary, and can lead to recommendations/actions and pertinent changes in the operational systems of global weather agencies (e.g. NOAA, EUMETSAT). Two of the most significant recommendations to come out of IROWG-4 for consideration by CGMS were:

  • ensure that both equatorial and polar components of COSMIC-2 are fully funded and launched (which is required for Numerical Weather Prediction, climate, and space weather); and
  • target at least 20,000 occultations per day, which will be made available to the operational and research communities of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), climate, and space weather.

Judging from these recommendations, it is clear that the operational and research users are convinced that RO data is an incredible data source for NWP, climate, and space weather, and that dedicated systems should be pursued by international government agencies to make a large number of RO soundings available for operational and research applications.

Site Survey for COSMIC-2 Ground Station in Darwin

COSMIC Ground Station
Dave, Bill, Pete, and Kendra inspecting the BOM Ground Station in Darwin

After attending the IROWG-4 meeting in Melbourne, Dave Ector and Bill Schreiner headed north to Darwin (in the tropics) with two NOAA representatives (Pete Wilczynski and Kendra Cook) to perform a site survey for a potential ground station that would provide TT&C (Tracking, Telemetry, and Commanding) services for the COSMIC-2 Program. This potential collaboration between NOAA and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is yet another example of an international partnership for the joint U.S./Taiwan COSMIC-2 Program.

After meetings with BOM scientists and engineers in Darwin, the UCAR and NOAA team travelled with the BOM team for one hour into the crocodile-infested outback to perform an inspection (i.e. site survey) of the site infrastructure. The BOM site checked out very well, and is expected to be an integral part of the COSMIC-2 ground-tracking network (pending final signatures from NOAA and BOM). Under this partnership, NOAA will provide a new 3.7 meter antenna and tracking equipment, and BOM will provide operations and maintenance for the site throughout the mission. UCAR is being funded by NOAA to procure and install the new antenna and tracking equipment. This project will be a challenge for UCAR since the site installation needs to be completed by the start of the rainy season in October/November 2015.

After all the hard work on this trip, the UCAR and NOAA teams were able to enjoy Australia by taking a truly frightening river boat tour in crocodile-infested waters. It was great, and everyone made it back to the U.S. in one piece :>)

Crocodile on riverboat tour
Salt-water crocodile on riverboat tour


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