AIRS data are widely used in weather forecasting, with AIRS radiance data being assimilated routinely at virtually all the operational weather prediction centers around the world. In addition to this core activity, the AIRS Project participates in the following weather application.

AIRS observations in the NOAA/NWS Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS)

NASA’s Aqua AIRS satellite sounding retrievals are available in near-real time for weather applications as a result of a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Science and Technology Corporation, the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), and the NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center at Marshall Space Flight Center.

A prototype system to process, format, and disseminate AIRS for display within the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) was developed to support use by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS manages the nation’s weather, water, and climate data, along with forecasts and warnings. AWIPS is the cornerstone system that forecasters use daily to analyze meteorological data to make accurate weather predictions and dispense rapid warnings. It is used at 122 Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), 13 River Forecast Centers (RFCs) and 7 Regional Headquarters across the country.

The JPL, STC, SSEC, and SPoRT team adapted science code to enable real-time processing of AIRS/AMSU observations through the NOAA Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS) which is currently used to operationally deliver NASA/NOAA NOAA-20 sounding retrievals to the NWS. The NOAA operational algorithm is based on the heritage AIRS science team algorithm and enables rapid processing and delivery of observations within 1 hour of the Aqua overpass by leveraging observations downlinked at the SSEC direct broadcast station.

Deployment of this prototype science-to-applications system enables the use of NUCAPS Aqua within NWS operations directly within AWIPS, which requires low latency observations to support pre-convective forecasting. The addition of NUCAPS Aqua to experimental near real-time pathways alongside NUCAPS soundings from the NASA/NOAA NOAA-20 satellite, increases the spatial and temporal resolution of satellite soundings available for weather forecasting and analysis.

The NUCAPS Aqua data can be explored graphically on the SPoRT webpage.