Thursday, July 30, 2015   |   Business Intelligence, Scientific Development

Getting the Big Picture: How Satellite-Derived Reflectivity Helps with Global Coverage

“Even if you had access to every land-based radar in the world, you still wouldn’t have global coverage,” said Matt Havin, Data Services Manager at Baron. “All the radars in the world only cover a certain percentage of the globe. Meteorologists need a way to see weather data in areas where land-based radar doesn’t reach—that’s where Satellite-Derived Reflectivity comes in.”

When weather events are out of range and coverage is important, Satellite-Derived Reflectivity (SDR) makes it easier to track the formation and path of storms. Baron added SDR capabilities to its suite of available tools in 2012 to help expand coverage beyond normal radar range and deliver more accurate forecasts of major weather events. This means enhanced situational awareness and more time to prepare.


Stitching Data Together

When observing Satellite-Derived Reflectivity, you are actually looking at the global satellite networks from around the world. Complex algorithms stich together information from the global satellite network, including America’s GOES satellites, Japan’s Himawari satellite, and Europe’s EUMETSAT to create a fuller, fleshed out image of respective reflectivity values. The final graphics produce an image that’s a comparable representation of what radar reflectivity would likely look like based on the satellite image. Information is presented in dBZ values to make the information easy to understand and digestible. “The data actually matches up pretty well,” said Havin. “The information makes it easier to see areas of storms and understand bigger events like typhoons and hurricanes.”

Because the data is satellite-based, update cycles are every 15 minutes. This means that during a major event, like a hurricane, updates will go out four times every hour.


See the Eye of the Hurricane More Clearly

These images were taken using Baron’s value-added Satellite-Derived Reflectivity.






















Here we have two images of Hurricane Dolores (pictured above). The first was taken at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The second one was taken at 5 p.m. later that evening. At both times, Dolores was at its strongest, a powerful hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. The Satellite-Derived Reflectivity product shows a very prominent eye feature to the storm and an intense CDO (central dense overcast), which is expected for such a powerful hurricane.

Earlier in 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam—equivalent to a Category 5 Hurricane—passed over the island of Vanuatu on March 13. Baron Satellite-Derived Reflectivity shows a tight center of circulation with a central dense overcast, indicating intense convection/squalls circulating clockwise around the center.


tropical cyclone pam











SDR was able to track the development of both storms, enabling a more precise forecast before damaging winds moved inland.


Global Data Products

“Other groups have created numerical weather model-based versions of the SDR product,” said Havin. “But they are just weather models. Our exclusive data helps meteorologists share what’s happening in real-time.” In addition to Satellite-Derived Reflectivity, Baron also has a variety of other global data products.

  • Global lightning makes it possible to see lightning strikes in real-time as they are happening around the world.
  • Our Global Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) product calculates daily the sea conditions, wave heights and temperature.
  • 10km resolution Global Satellite helps determine atmospheric conditions around the globe.