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The Army used a variety of space systems to better understand the battlefield environment. Weather satellites, both civil and military, supported deployment to, and operations in, the theater. Imagery from earth resources satellites was used to develop up-to-date image maps and to support the terrain analysis function.

Section A - WEATHER


Two types of satellites provide weather support to Army units deployed around the globe; Geostationary and Polar. Geostationary satellites positioned over the United States (GOES) and Europe (METEOSAT) provided weather imagery for Operation DESERT STORM forces. Civil polar-orbiting satellites from the United States (TIROS) and the Soviet Union (Meteor) provided real-time imagery as they passed over the theater of operations. The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), the DoD polar-orbiting weather satellites, provided indirect support to the Army at echelons corps and below, and direct support to ARCENT.

The primary differences among all of these satellite types are the spatial resolution of the imagery and the amount of time between consecutive images. Geostationary imagery resolution (received by Army receivers) is on the order of 10 kilometers. This resolution provides very large scale views of the weather - the views seen every evening on the local news broadcasts. A geostationary satellite reimages the same view of the earth approximately every 30 minutes. Civil polar-orbiting satellites provide a spatial resolution of 2 - 4 kilometers, which provides a smaller scale look at the weather. DMSP imagery received by the Army during Operation DESERT STORM has a resolution of .6 kilometers. This resolution allows the identification of even smaller scale weather phenomena, such as fog and sandstorms, both of which were of interest during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Polar-orbiting weather satellites pass over every part of the earth on the order of every 12 hours.

Figure 4. DMSP Satellite


Wraase Receiver. The primary receiver for weather satellite imagery was a small commercial receiver made by the Wraase Electronics Company. CINCUSAREUR purchased these types of receivers for all the weather teams supporting Army forces in Europe. In 1989 CINCFORSCOM followed suit and purchased the same receiver for the remainder of the weather teams in the Army. Most weather teams had experience using the Wraase Receiver prior to deployment to Saudi Arabia. The Wraase receives imagery from the geostationary satellites and the civil polar-orbiting satellites. It can store and animate (loop) up to eight geostationary satellite images as are seen on a typical news broadcast.

DMSP Receiver. In mid-December 1990, a small experimental Air Force DMSP weather receiver was delivered to the ARCENT Staff Weather Office (SWO). This receiver captured DMSP data directly from the defense satellites.


Wraase/Weathertrac. At the request of the ARCENT SWO, two FORSCOM Automated Intelligence Support System computers were outfitted with commercial software called Weathertrac and connected to the existing Wraase Receivers to produce weather satellite work- stations. These workstations were delivered to one Army corps and ARCENT. The upgrade permitted the digitizing and analysis of Wraase imagery. The analysis included latitude/longitude gridding of polar-orbiter imagery, temperature calibration of infrared imagery, and other image enhancements.

OBSERVATION: The METEOSAT geostationary satellite provided the most-often used data during the operations.

DISCUSSION: Despite having the lowest spatial resolution of all available satellites, METEOSAT imagery was the most frequently used. The reason was that the images were available every half hour to an hour and they provided the same viewpoint with each image allowing animation of imagery. These two factors overshadowed the fact that the Saudi Arabian peninsula is on the fringe of the METEOSAT footprint further diluting the image quality. (For depiction of a satellite footprint, see Appendix B.) As a result of the already low resolution of imagery and the skewing of the imagery near the edge of the satellite's footprint, METEOSAT imagery could be used only for the detection and tracking of large-scale weather events.

LESSON(S): Rapid repeat of weather imagery is often more important than the spatial resolution of the imagery or data. To fully exploit higher resolution data from polar-orbiter imagery which supports global weather information needs, deployed units must be able to receive, register, and display the data with the same scale geographic/geopolitical overlays. Computer enhancement of Wraase data with remapping capability is needed to fully exploit currently available imagery.

OBSERVATION: Full resolution imagery from the DMSP satellites was extremely useful in identifying specific weather events.

DISCUSSION: The relatively low spatial resolution of METEOSAT imagery did not permit the determination of detailed cloud cover data or other small-scale phenomena of interest to the tactical commander (fog, sand storms, smoke, etc.). However, by combining the time-sequenced images from METEOSAT with the higher resolution real-time imagery of the DMSP satellites, more accurate descriptions of weather over the battlefield could be given. Detailed cloud cover estimates and rainfall areas were more accurately determined using this high resolution data.

Neither the polar orbiters nor the geostationary METEOSAT satellite offered the complete solution to weather satellite support to the weather teams. Polar orbiters provided more detailed imagery, but the geostationary satellite provided the imagery more frequently.

No one satellite system satisfied all of the requirements.

LESSON(S): Imagery from different types of satellites is complimentary/supplementary. Combining the strengths that each satellite type provides enhances the weather teams' abilities to provide detailed and timely forecasts.

OBSERVATION: Weather imagery was of great interest to users outside the weather office.

DISCUSSION: The ARCENT topographic support battalion regularly incorporated DMSP imagery into its battlefield environment analysis. While the efforts were primarily experimental, there was a desire to incorporate this new data source into the terrain analysis being performed at ARCENT. An example of this experimental effort was the attempted tracking of the Persian Gulf oil spill using real-time DMSP imagery.

Imagery from the DMSP receiver was transported from the weather team to the topographic unit via floppy disk.

At levels where DMSP high-resolution imagery was not available, there was a desire to display lower resolution Wraase imagery on other than weather systems.

LESSON(S): Collocate the high resolution receiver with the terrain and intelligence staffs. Data from the DMSP and TIROS satellites can be shared among the staffs. This did not appear to be difficult at corps level and below where these elements operate in relatively close proximity, but at echlons above corps they may be separated.

Build hardware and software input/output compatibility into the intelligence, terrain, and weather systems. Data/imagery must be easily transported from one system to another.

OBSERVATION: Weather observations over the theater, both ground and upper air, were very sparse.

DISCUSSION: Lack of weather observations in the area of operations limited the detail of forecasts. TIROS and DMSP satellites pass over the Saudi peninsula 12 to 14 times a day. These satellites could have provided many of the weather observaions not available in this desolate area. Both the civilian TIROS and the DoD DMSP satellites transmit data along with imagery. This data provides information about winds, temperature, and moisture at various altitudes as well as surface information such as moisture and temperature. Combinations of this type of data could provide the information needed to more accurately target and employ weapon systems. This data is transmitted in real time with the satellite imagery from both the DMSP and TIROS satellites. The Wraase Receiver is only capable of receiving imagery products from civil satellites.

"The way was clear to attack the first two objectives, Utah and Ohio, but weather became a problem as fog and light rain restricted visibility to 200 and 500 meters."

1st Brigade, 2d Armored Division

The experimental DMSP Receiver could receive both the DMSP imagery and data but could only display the imagery.

LESSON(S): Future systems must be developed to include capture and display of both the imagery and the special data.

OBSERVATION: Some deploying weather teams did not have the transmission schedule of the METEOSAT satellite.

DISCUSSION: The METEOSAT geostationary satellite transmits imagery products on a much different time schedule than the GOES satellite that covers the United States. Without the schedule of transmissions, the weather teams could not set their Wraase Receivers for automatic capture of images. Images were saved manually if the weather personnel happened to be watching the incoming images. Often the images over the area of operations were missed and not saved, leaving unnecessary gaps in the coverage.

LESSON(S): Contingency planning by weather teams needs to include a review of the satellites and characteristics available to support those contingencies. Preparation for deployment of the weather teams should include the updating of geostationary satellite schedules and polar-orbiting satellite information prior to final departure.

OBSERVATION: Transmission of weather information in the form of data and imagery consumed a large portion of existing communications networks. Communication capacity was not adequate to accommodate weather data received over existing communications networks proved to be virtually useless in terms of quality and timeliness. Quality was adversely effected when the images were converted from analog to digital form over and over in the transmission process. No weather imagery was available to units below division level.

DISCUSSION: High-resolution imagery from the DMSP system at ARCENT was not deliverable to tactical units. At echelons below division (where no satellite receivers were available), no weather imagery was available.

LESSON(S): Direct satellite-to-user delivery of imagery and data would provide responsive, detailed weather support to tactical forces. High-resolution receivers must be developed that can move with the supported units.

"A tremendous sandstorm kicked up in the early afternoon...The bad weather would keep the division from getting air support for another one and one-half days."

"We hit a swamp...We hit the first swamp of the war, and almost every vehicle bogged down in it...We didn't expect it to be anything that drastic."

1st Armored Division

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Position/Navigation (POS/NAV)
Chapter 2, Part 2

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