The Second Asia/Oceania Meteorological Satellite Users' Conference
6 - 9 December, Tokyo/Japan

The Second Asia/Oceania Meteorological Satellite Users’ Conference Summary

Opening Remarks

The Second Asia/Oceania Meteorological Satellite Users’ Conference was held in Tokyo, Japan, from 6 – 9 December, 2011. The event was hosted and sponsored by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), and was co-sponsored by the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The conference was opened by Mr. Jin Matsubara, Japan’s Senior Vice-Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), followed by remarks from Dr. Mitsuhiko Hatori, Director-General of JMA and the conference host, and words from the co-sponsors. All opening speakers recognized the importance of the conference, the need for cooperation at all levels and the potential for improved satellite data utilization, and all expressed high expectations for the outcomes of the event. This four-day gathering was attended by over 160 people, including students, scientists, users and satellite operators.

The conference featured a mix of high-quality oral and poster presentations, and covered topics including current/future operational and research satellite observational capabilities relevant to the Asia-Oceania region, data sharing and utilization, science activities and applications, and education/training opportunities. The content and clarity of the event’s scientific presentations promoted useful discussion and furthered information exchange based on the following eight sessions:

Session 1: Current and future satellite programs and systems
Session 2: Facilitation of satellite data access and utilization
Session 3: Satellite data application for atmosphere, ocean and land
Session 4: Earth observation satellite
Session 5: The GEOSS Asian Water Cycle Initiative (AWCI)
Session 6: Severe weather and precipitation
Session 7: Application of satellite data to numerical weather prediction
Session 8: Climate monitoring from space

The presentations given highlighted the value of satellite products in daily forecasting, in disaster mitigation activities such as those relating to heavy rainfall, in assessing the characteristics of oceans and land, in tracking greenhouse gases and other atmospheric constituents, and in environmental monitoring with respect to ecosystem sustainability and management. Especially large fluctuations of the water cycle in the Asia-Oceania region threaten the security of water supply as well as endangering the reliability of services relating to food, energy, health and the ecosystem. To address these issues, nations first need to share comprehensive and accurate data and information, then implement various measures to deal with threats and prepare for disasters before they strike. With timely support, society can make sound decisions and establish safety networks beyond national borders. The conference participants agreed to maintain end-to-end cooperation and to continue with the challenge of monitoring weather and climate variability/change using satellite-based products.

The satellite operators present appreciated the user feedback given on related activities and plans (such as those to provide opportunities for regional coordination in data and product exchange) and on improvements in the field of satellite data utilization. It was recognized that these improvements stemmed from careful characterization and calibration of sensor data, timely adjustment of the algorithms used to develop products, and validation of the accuracy of such products. The conference highlighted that sharing information on current satellite systems and future plans was essential for: 1) realizing the vast potential of the meteorological and environmental satellites serving the Asia-Oceania region; 2) providing essential information to better satisfy diverse needs with focus on a variety of societal benefit areas; and 3) establishing pathways for coordinated application-related activities throughout the Asia-Oceania region. This further emphasized the importance of user feedback for satellite operators regarding their services, regional coordination, and exchanges of ideas to improve satellite data utilization.

After the eight sessions, the Plenary Session was held. (The summary is shown below in this page.) Finally, KMA’s offer to host the third Asia/Oceania Meteorological Satellite Users’ Conference in the fall of 2012 was favorably received. The attendees also appreciated BOM’s efforts in planning to host the fourth conference in 2013, which would underline the importance of the relationship between satellite operators in the region and users in Oceania.

Group Photo

Summary of Plenary Session:

Dr. James Purdom (Chair, International Conference Steering Committee (ICSC)) served as moderator of the Plenary Session. Main speakers included conference co-sponsors and members of the ICSC. There were also comments from the participants.

Dr. Purdom opened the final session on behalf of the participants of the second Asia-Oceania Meteorological Satellite Users’ Conference by thanking JMA for hosting the conference in such superb facilities and for their exceptional hospitality throughout the conference. In addition the conference co-sponsors were also thanked for helping to assure that the conference was a success. He further noted that it was a remarkable tribute to JMA that the conference came together very quickly and professionally after the earth quake and tsunami that had devastated Japan earlier in the year.

Dr. Ae-Sook Suh (KMA), on behalf of KMA expressed appreciation for JMA’s great effort to host the 2nd user conference which was organized excellently. She noted with certainty that this conference is serving as a platform for positive cooperation among Asia-oceanic countries and that it is providing valuable information to aid in planning data service policies and for the applications of meteorological satellite data. She then addressed the following points: 1) The first Korean meteorological satellite, COMS (Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite), is working well and with MI (Meteorological Imager) image data being broadcast via HRIT/LRIT; in the near future, MI image data and meteorological products will be accessible via FTP from the NMSC (National Meteorological Satellite Center) website. KMA hopes to have more and more international users of COMS MI data and looks forward to receiving feedback from users. 2) KMA has started a project to support COMS receiving, processing systems and education program with KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency). KMA recently finished its first specific training course for Sri Lanka users and is planning to extend this project to any other user countries. 3) KMA is planning the next COMS which is scheduled to be launched in 2017. To maximize the benefits of developing and operating meteorological satellite in Asia-Oceanic region, we are all aware of the need for positive cooperation between all countries. We believe that this conference offers a good opportunity to achieve that goal. 4) KMA is pleased to announce that it is going to host the third Asia-Oceanic meteorological satellite user conference. We are thinking of an October, 2012 timeframe with Jeju Island as the place for the next conference. The date and place will be officially announced early next year. We look forward to seeing all of you in Korea.

Prof. José Achache, GEO, reflected that the conference demonstrated the capability of users in the Asia-Oceania region to utilize meteorological satellites in various Societal Benefit Areas. Meteorological observations including satellite and in-situ observations are an integral part of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). GEO hopes to further develop the synergy between meteorological observations and other components of GEOSS, and hopes to continue working with users in the Asia-Oceania region in doing so. He further pointed out that we are witnessing the emergence of many initiatives on global Earth observations that highlight the growing concern of the international society in this area. There is need for further coordination of such initiatives to achieve efficiency. GEO is willing to lead such an effort in the coming years. We thank JMA for the excellent organization of this 2nd conference and look forward to continuing GEO’s support for the next conference in Korea.

Mr. Tsutomu Johmura (JMA), on behalf of JMA, expressed appreciation to all the participants in the 2nd user conference, and that it was a great honor for JMA to host this conference in Tokyo, Japan. Through the 4-days of discussion, JMA recognized again importance of exchanging information between satellite operators and users. JMA also strongly supports the furthering of cooperation between satellite operators and skilled users for the development of common algorithm for products from meteorological satellites such as FY-2, COMS and MTSAT operated over the Asia and Oceania.

Dr Wenjian Zhang, WMO, pointed out that the organization of the 2nd user conference was excellent and that the conference was a great success due to the active participation and contribution from users, satellite operators and research community, as well as the strong support of local host JMA. He then addressed the following 3 points: 1) the conference proved again the absolute need of this forum in the Asia-Oceania region for facilitating the exchange of information on sciences and technologies of the various meteorological satellite programs, on data and products utilization, and on future plans; 2) he felt a strong consensus had developed among this community during the conference that as a community we need start thinking about and planning some joint activities to address common concerns in a more collaborative manner. Such synergy could help maximize utilization; this is important in future conferences; and, 3) we need continue and even further strengthen this conference by engaging more high level experts and seek a broader community for following conferences (for example major NWP and climate centers, hydrological organizations, more developing countries and more young scientists in this region), with a long term target of good communication, better cooperation and synergy, and best utilization for the provision of improved meteorological services to the people, the social and economic development of our nations.

Dr. Barbara Ryan, WMO, pointed out that a key accomplishment of this conference was the increased involvement of countries who do not fly their own satellites, including, but not limited to, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. She further noted that continued participation from these and other countries should be encouraged so that the investments made by satellite operators can be better leveraged throughout the region. She cited the numerous references that had been made to the WMO/CGMS (Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites), International Scientific Working Groups -- IPWG, IWWG, IROWG, etc. throughout the conference, and that invitations to Working Group members from the Asia/Oceania region should be done for future conferences. Similarly, given references to education and training efforts throughout the conference, the Centers of Excellence in the Region from the WMO/CGMS Virtual Laboratory for Training and Education in Satellite Meteorology (VLab) should become more involved.

Dr. Caiying Wei, CMA, noted with appreciation that JMA and other co-sponsors had successfully and fruitfully hosted AOMSUC-2 after the first conference in Beijing last year. She thanked all the participants for their active participation in the conference and for their valuable and beneficial presentations. She further noted: 1) The conference is an effective platform and a long-term cooperative mechanism that engages meteorological satellite users in Asia as well as in the rest of the world. We should continue our cooperation sustainably, especially for space agencies, and we need to contribute more to data sharing and to improved utilization of meteorological satellites and their applications. 2) Most of space agencies are designing their future plan of meteorological satellites at the same time, CMA hopes all users can give constructive proposals and requirements for weather and climate monitoring from space in order that the future system can better meet global needs.

Dr. Tillmann Mohr, retired Director General of EUMETSAT, suggested that Asia/Oceania should establish a more formal structure for cooperation, e.g. first in the area of product generation. He suggested Asia/Oceania cover the middle and eastern Pacific by a satellite data distribution system e.g. extension of CMACAST or a contribution by Australia. He invited those space agencies running the global precipitation mission constellation to make the constellation a part of the space component of WIGOS.

Dr. John Le Marshall, AuBOM, pointed out that this conference has shown Asia/Oceania has considerable satellite related capability available for utilization ( for example it has six geostationary satellites; MTSAT, FY-2, Meteosat, COMS1, Insat, GOES-W ). During the conference it was also shown that the region has a significant number of satellite observations and satellite-based products being provided for user exploitation. The conference has also indicated there is a need to optimize use of these observational data, and to optimize the exploitation of these satellite products for user/societal benefits: that need could be met by a more formal arrangement for collaboration.

Prof. Toshio Koike, U. of Tokyo, pointed out that large fluctuations of the water cycle in Asia-Pacific region are threatening water security as well as endangering the security of food, energy, health and ecosystem services. To address the issues, nations first need to share comprehensive and accurate data and information, then prepare various measures to prepare for threats and disasters in advance of their occurrence, provide society with timely support and sound decision making, and establish trans-boundary safety networks towards a resilient society. By sharing coordinated, comprehensive and sustained observations and information for sound decision making, we will be able to develop usable information that will guide society to solutions. The participants recognize the critical need of data integration framework and infrastructure which enable scientists, practitioners, decision-makers, citizens and other stakeholders to work together toward end-to-end cooperation.

Participants: There was an overwhelmingly positive response from the participants. They expressed their appreciation to JMA for hosting this conference, to KMA for planning to host the third conference in Korea in 2012, and to Australia for its offer to host the fourth conference in 2013. Participants noted that the conference had strengthened the justification for open data exchange, intercomparisons of measurements and derived products; they also noted the need for a more coordinated effort within the Asia/Oceania community for improved data utilization. There was agreement that future conferences should continue to consist of both oral and poster presentations; and, that means for accommodation of the private sector might be considered, perhaps through booths or exhibits. All agreed that the goals of the conference had been met and that the challenges and opportunities of the future were exciting.

In closing, Dr. Purdom, Chair ICSC, noted that the science presentations at the conference were of a very high quality. He further expressed his delight at the enthusiasm of conference participants and the diversity of topics covered during the conference, including improvements in data utilization. He noted that the conference successfully provided a forum for scientists, satellite operators and users to exchange ideas; it promoted the importance of satellite observations and highlighted their utility; it advanced satellite remote sensing science by fostering scientific information exchanges; it engaged a number of young scientists and users from developing countries where satellite data has contributed significantly to their efforts in disaster mitigation and environmental stewardship; and, it provided a forum for education and training by engaging the young people entering in the field. He further noted the expression by many of the Asia/Oceania community for some type of formal activity within the region that focused on integration of multi-satellite data and products to improve utilization. Importantly, the conference had provided a forum where Asia/Oceania satellite operators could receive feedback from the users of their services, further their understand the importance of satellite contributions to the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS), and receive input focusing on improved satellite data utilization.