The World Meteorological Organization has provided satellite data receiving and processing systems to nine countries in East Asia and the Western Pacific region in cooperation with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The aim is to spread the benefits of advanced satellite technology with developing countries to improve early warning systems and monitor and detect hazards such as tropical cyclones such as severe Tropical Cyclone Winston which recently hit Fiji.

“I am proud that we have a new world class meteorological satellite data receiving system. The system can detect various severe events including volcanic ash which is detrimental for aircraft,” said Samuel Maiha, Director of the National Weather Service of Papua New Guinea, one of the recipient countries.

Himawari-8, the new generation geostationary meteorological satellite of JMA was launched in October 2014 and has been operational since July 2015, replacing MTSAT-2 (also called Himawari-7 in Japan). The satellite is located at around 140 degrees east, observing East Asia and the Western Pacific.

The most valuable function of geostationary meteorological satellites is their ability to monitor atmospheric phenomena continuously and uniformly over various areas such as seas, deserts and mountains where surface-based observation is difficult.

With the enhanced observation capability by 16 bands (channels), Himawari-8 is expected to improve the performance of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the region in a variety of fields such as weather forecasting, climate monitoring, disaster risk reduction and safe transportation.

“WMO welcomes the operation of Himawari as a new era for geostationary meteorological satellites which will contribute to the prevention and management of weather-related disasters in the East Asia and Western Pacific regions,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“The joint efforts by WMO and JMA to facilitate the reception and use of new generation satellite data can be a model for WMO’s support for other regions in coming years,” said Mr Taalas.

(HimawariCast Antenna installed at Papua New Guinea National Weather Service)

The imagery data derived from Himawari-8 and JMA’s numerical weather prediction products are distributed to users via an Internet cloud service and a communication satellite (HimawariCast) as a replacement of the direct dissemination service via MTSAT-1R (Himawari-6). It is, therefore, necessary for many users to install the receiving and processing systems for HimawariCast.

In order to facilitate the reception of Himawari-8 data for operational meteorological services in developing countries in the region, WMO, in cooperation with JMA, has implemented a project to install HimawariCast receiving and processing systems and recently completed the installation of the systems in NMHSs in nine countries, namely, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Federated States of Micronesia, Myanmar, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Tuvalu and Viet Nam.

In addition, JMA has carried out expert visits to some of the recipient NMHSs conducting training seminars to maximize the benefit they can derive from Himawari-8 data and is planning to dispatch its experts to the remaining recipient NMHSs, to complement the implementation of the project.

“I am convinced that the new systems installed in nine countries through this project will further improve capability in early detection of, and responses to, severe weather events of recipient countries,” said Noritake Nishide, JMA Director-General and Japan’s Permanent Representative to WMO.