SOURCE: GeoOptics


May 28, 2013 11:02 ET

GeoOptics Offers Congress a Path to Improve Weather Forecasting Through Better Data Sourcing

GeoOptics Invited by House Science Subcommittee to Examine Ways to Restore U.S. Leadership in Weather Forecasting

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - May 28, 2013) - Jon Kirchner, president and chief operating officer of GeoOptics, the satellite-based environmental data services company, has provided Congress with a path to change the way the U.S. Government acquires essential data for severe and day-to-day weather forecasting.

In testimony delivered May 23 before the Subcommittee on Environment of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Kirchner suggested ways of improving weather forecasting by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other U.S. agencies, and commented on a draft bill entitled "The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013." The proposed legislation would direct NOAA to prioritize and redirect its resources to a focused program of investing in near-term, affordable, and attainable advances in observational data, computing, and modeling capabilities. The program would deliver substantial improvement in the prediction of high-impact, severe weather events.

Kirchner highlighted the need to modernize the way NOAA and other federal agencies obtain satellite weather data, placing new emphasis on purchasing data from low-cost commercial suppliers.

"The U.S. government should articulate and implement procurement reform by creating new performance-based, pay-on-delivery, data-purchase procurement approaches that enable federal agencies to immediately contract for services to help close the observational weather data gap looming in the next few years," Kirchner told the committee in his testimony.

Given the tight constraints on the federal budget, the subcommittee wants NOAA to look for opportunities that reflect a "best bang for our buck" approach in buying weather data. Federal agencies like NOAA own and operate expensive satellite constellations that take many years to build. An over-reliance on this practice has effectively blocked any new investments in more powerful and lower-cost satellite sensors that could be deployed far more quickly by private groups. GeoOptics advocates that the private sector assume some of the management and risk by maintaining and operating satellite data collection systems and providing services meeting standards set by federal agencies for weather forecasting and Earth science.

GeoOptics will launch an array of powerful GPS radio occultation (RO) sensors on its Phase 1 "CICERO" constellation of six low Earth orbiting satellites. CICERO will be expanded to 24 satellites carrying complementary sensors as demand grows. GPS-RO measures atmospheric temperature, moisture and pressure with a precision unrivalled by other space-based techniques. The RO sensor recovers this information by precisely observing perturbations imposed on ubiquitous GPS radio signals as they pass through the atmosphere. Today more than 2,500 orgnizations in 75 countries use RO data in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) and research. NOAA's own studies show that more accurate mid-to-long term forecasts can be made up to 15 hours sooner using the data collected from the current limited set of experimental GPS-RO sensors. CICERO Phase 1 will increase the available RO data supply at least three-fold.

"GeoOptics will advance a small satellite observing model that starts with GPS radio occultation," Kirchner testified. "We believe an integrated private company like ours can deploy such systems for a fraction of current costs to the government."

Kirchner went on to characterize the value proposition that commercial companies, like GeoOptics, will represent to the U.S. weather enterprise community. He said GeoOptics believes that by adopting procurement options for purchasing earth observational data, the government could foster a vibrant global market in innovative satellite weather data. This will dramatically advance forecasting, particularly for severe storms, and will save lives, protect property and promote a robust U.S. economy.

About GeoOptics
Founded in 2006 by Dr. Thomas Yunck, GeoOptics Inc. is an environmental data services company and provider of space-based Earth remote sensing data and services. GeoOptics plans to collect diverse information on the Earth's atmosphere in near real-time starting in 2015 with an initial six small satellites carrying unique and powerful GPS-RO sensors in a constellation known as CICERO. Data from CICERO will feed NWP models for operational weather to help manage the effects of the Sun on the Earth's infrastructure. CICERO will support the study of many interrelated environmental processes, and the ability to predict the course of environmental change. Governments and industries around the world will use CICERO data in such diverse areas as agriculture, energy, intelligence, defense, air and marine transportation, resource exploration, insurance and risk management, and emergency preparedness. Additional information about the company can be found at

Contact Information

    Jon Kirchner
    GeoOptics Inc.
    Office: +1 610.642.1293
    Email Contact