NOAA 03-060
Contact: John Leslie

NOAA News Releases 2003
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Officials View Agreement As Important Step In Furthering International Cooperation

Japanese meteorologists today began using data from NOAA’s GOES-9 environmental satellite to track typhoons and other weather systems that impact the western Pacific region. Following an agreement signed last year between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), forecasters there now have constant satellite data – a reality that appeared threatened when Japan’s previous satellite, the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite-5, began to fail. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

“The Japanese are now receiving data from the GOES-9,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and NOAA administrator. “This is the spirit of international cooperation in action.”

Under the May 2002 agreement, Japan agreed to cover the cost of upgrading NOAA’s Command and Data Acquisition Station in Fairbanks, Alaska, which now enables NOAA to control GOES-9 and provide data on weather systems affecting the western region. GOES stands for geostationary operational environment satellite. NOAA operates two GOES that circle the earth in geosynchronous orbit and can detect atmospheric triggers for disruptive weather, including tornadoes, floods and tropical cyclones.

The agreement also lays the groundwork for the two nations to negotiate a long-term mutual back-up arrangement, which would allow the United States to ask Japan for help, if one of America’s GOES experiences trouble.

“Now that this back-up agreement is underway, we need to look at the longer-term. A long-range agreement would provide benefits to both countries and ensure continuous geostationary coverage, which is crucial to weather prediction and climate monitoring,” said Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator for NOAA Satellites and Information.

GOES-9 was launched in 1995, but has been in an orbit-storage mode because it no longer met NOAA’s full operational requirements. NOAA retrieved GOES-9 from storage on April 14 and began making it operational for the Japanese.

Japan plans to replace the GMS-5 with its Multifunctional Transportation Satellite, which is currently on schedule to be launched in 2004.

NOAA Satellite and Information is the nation’s primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. It operates the Nation’s environmental satellites, which are used for weather and ocean observation and forecasting, climate monitoring, sea-surface temperature, fire detection and ozone monitoring.

NOAA Satellite and Information Service also operates three data centers, which house global databases in climatology, oceanography, solid Earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics and paleoclimatology.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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