The color versus black and white image is one improvement, but four times more resolution may be an even bigger improvement. This will allow for more minute textures to be seen, giving a more accurate depiction of the actual cloud cover.
Not only does GOES-16 have much better resolution, it also completes its scans five times faster than the current GOES satellites. This will prove to be a huge benefit during severe weather situations. Changes in clouds occur before precipitation begins to fall, so being able to identify the formation of supercell thunderstorms will lead to earlier warnings for severe weather.
Satellite imagery is also crucial in forecasting hurricane intensity. Higher resolution and more frequent images will lead to more accurate estimates of the hurricane's current strength when it's far from land. This will likely lead to better intensity forecasts.
In addition to increased resolution and speed, other improved instruments on the satellite will also lead to better rainfall and wind speed estimates. This data will then be ingested into the computer models used to forecast the weather, leading to improved output.
GOES-16 is also equipped with the first operational lightning mapper. Being able to identify where and how much lightning there is will help pin-point which storms are strengthening and which are weakening.
Though 22,300 miles above the surface of Earth, this powerful new tool may be the most important in the meteorological tool kit. It marks a new era of more timely and accurate forecasts and warnings.
Copyright 2017 WXIX. All rights reserved.