Revolutionary new weather satellite system aims to save lives


In the current context of climate change, severe weather phenomena are becoming more frequent and affect the whole of Europe. Floods from Storm Bernd in the summer of 2021 killed more than 180 people in Germany and Belgium and caused billions of euros in damage, while the consequences of the record drought and fires in the summer of 2022 will be long duration.

The European Environment Agency estimates that weather and climate events have caused up to €520 billion in economic losses in the EEA between 1980 and 2020. Up to 145,000 lives have been lost during the same period.

EUMETSAT Director General Phil Evans said: “The Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) system is the most complex and innovative geostationary meteorological satellite system ever built. The aim of this multi-billion euro investment is to provide our Member States’ meteorological services with a significantly increased amount of more accurate information that will help them protect lives, property and infrastructure. This system will literally save lives.

The system’s first satellite, an imaging satellite that will provide higher resolution and more precise images of Europe and Africa every 10 minutes, will be launched at the end of the year.

Director General of the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Daniel Gellens, said: “The MTG system, when fully deployed, will allow us, for the first time, to track the full life cycle of storms from space. We will be able to detect the initial instability of the atmosphere before clouds form, monitor the development of thunderstorms and track lightning activity. This is an extremely important development and we have been working with EUMETSAT to prepare to make the best possible use of MTG data.

The MTG system shows what can be achieved through international collaboration and cooperation. Such a system could not be deployed by any of the EUMETSAT Member States alone, but it was made possible by combining their expertise and industrial capabilities. Belgian scientific and industrial expertise has been an integral part of the development of this system.

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