Geostationary Mesoscale Imagery: An Overview

Geostationary mesoscale imagery refers to a type of satellite imagery that provides a constant view of a specific region on Earth. Unlike other types of satellite imagery that capture images of the entire Earth’s surface, GOES-R mesoscale imagery focuses on a smaller, specific area and provides high-resolution images of that area every few minutes or seconds.

GOES-R Mesoscale domains are 1,000 by 1,000 km movable rectangular regions. Mesoscale scans frequently revisit an area of interest to monitor regional conditions.

In Mode 6, the ABI on both GOES-16 and 18 scans either the same mesoscale domain every 30 seconds or two separate mesoscale domains every 60 seconds. The default is to scan two separate Mesoscale domains every 60 seconds. (The ABI concurrently produces a full disk image every 10 minutes, a CONUS (GOES-16) / PACUS (GOES-18) image every five minutes, and images from both mesoscale domains every 60 seconds (or one sub-domain every 30 seconds)).

Below are two mesoscale captures of GOES-T (GOES-18) being launched on March 1, 2022

The images captured by geostationary mesoscale satellites are typically in the visible and infrared spectrums, allowing for the detection of various atmospheric and weather conditions, including clouds, precipitation, and atmospheric temperature. This type of imagery is particularly useful for meteorologists and weather forecasters, as it provides real-time information on weather conditions and allows for more accurate weather predictions.

This constant coverage allows meteorologists and weather forecasters to monitor weather conditions in real time and provides valuable information for severe weather warnings and emergency response.

GOES-16 and 18 each have two default domains (see below), however, the domains can be positioned anywhere within the full disk upon request. Requests are placed by National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). You can see the current and future meso plots here

They are announced in the ADMSDM product.

Another benefit of geostationary mesoscale imagery is its high resolution. These images are typically captured at a resolution of 1 km or less, which allows for the detection of smaller-scale weather patterns and features. This level of detail is particularly useful for monitoring and predicting the development of severe weather, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

When one MESO is tasked with providing 30-second imagery, as they do in some circumstances like hurricanes or when there is a specific research request, the secondary domain, in this case, MESO 2 is NOT active. This is also why it does not appear in your HRIT or GRB feed.

Special Meso Requests

From time to time NOAA receives requests to designate a certain area for meso coverage for a special or unusual event. In the example below both GOES-16 and GOES-18 were tasked with observing the launch of GOES-T into space. These types of requests may only last an hour, or the duration of the event.

GOES- T Launch Meso from GOES -17GOES- T Launch Meso from GOES -16

National Special Security Events (NSSE)
On occasion, the Department of Homeland Security may designate an event NSSE or National Special Security Event (NSSE). An NSSE is a designated event that, due to its political, economic, social, or religious significance, may be the target of domestic/international criminal activity (terrorism) as a result of national significance and high visibility, requiring the lead of Secret Service.

Examples of submitted events have included the Super Bowl, Indianapolis 500, US Open, and the Kentucky Derby. A SEAR rating is applied to those types of events based on risk assessment. The Super Bowl may only necessitate a Level 5 SEAR and require NOAA, to provide coverage for meteorological monitoring. This then would generate a request for specific mesoscale imagery.

Special Event Assessment Rating(SEAR) Events
A SEAR is a similar event not of the same magnitude or significance as an NSSE, but
involving the lead interagency effort of DHS, USSS, and the FBI.

  1. SEAR-I: Events of such magnitude and significant national and/or international importance that may require the full support of the United States Government
  2. SEAR-II: Significant events with national and/or international importance that
    may require direct national federal support and situational awareness.
  3. SEAR-III: Significant events with national and/or international importance that
    may require only limited direct federal support to augment local capabilities.
  4. SEAR-IV: Events with limited national importance that generally require state
    and local resources.
  5. SEAR-V: Events that may be nationally recognized but generally have local or
    state importance.

Geostationary mesoscale imagery is a valuable tool for meteorologists and weather forecasters, providing real-time information on weather conditions and allowing for more accurate weather predictions. The constant coverage and high resolution of these images make them a valuable resource for monitoring and predicting severe weather, and for providing emergency response and warnings.

How Does the ABI scan the earth?

This video shows how the Advanced Baseline Imager scans the earth providing different MESO’s, CONUS, Full Disks, etc.