MSG-2 will advance long-term monitoring of Earth's energy balance

This week's launch of MSG-2 will ensure that satellite images continue to be available to European weather forecasters well into the next decade. It also marks a new chapter in a long-term space experiment measuring the available energy that drives the weather as a whole, and helping to establish how much the Earth is heating up.

MSG-2's main instrument is the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infra-red Imager (SEVIRI) which returns detailed 12-wavelength images of the Earth and its atmosphere every 15 minutes, for use in operational meteorology. As in the case of the original MSG-1 - launched into geostationary orbit back in August 2002 - the drum-shaped satellite also carries a smaller scientific instrument called the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB), designed to measure the net balance between incoming radiation from the Sun, and outgoing radiation from the Earth, known as the 'Earth Radiation Budget' which is the energy source for the planet's atmospheric system and the ultimate driver of weather phenomena and climate.

Results from MSG-1's original GERB are being used to enhance scientific understanding of climate processes, how human activities are modifying the climate balance and as inputs to improve the accuracy of complex numerical models. GERB results are also being combined with high-resolution SEVIRI imagery to see how hour-by-hour variations in clouds affect the radiation balance.

"Already GERB data from the first instrument are being used, for example, to study how the daily variation of tropical clouds over Africa affect the climate balance, and also how the huge dust storms that sweep from the Sahara out over the Atlantic can affect the weather and the climate," says Prof. John Harries of Imperial College, Principal Investigator for GERB.

"New aspects of these processes are being observed, with studies carried out by members of the GERB International Science Team (GIST), which includes scientists from t

Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
European Space Agency

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