Tim Schmit, satellite research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a Sammies 2018 finalist, discusses how his work has improved forecasting, and taught people how to analyze huge amounts of data from NOAA satellites.
Last year had some of the most devastating hurricanes on record, with some communities still feeling the effects. At the start of the 2018 Hurricane Season, it’s more important than ever to have accurate storm predictions. Tim Schmit, satellite research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has been working to improve satellite data gathering for more than 20 years. His work was instrumental in developing the Advanced Baseline Imager attached to the GOES-16 satellite, which improved the quality of NOAA forecasts. For his work in the field, Schmit is nominated for a Samuel J Heyman Medal. “When I started my career, we would get an image maybe every 15 to 30 minutes. With this new generation of satellites over a small area, we can get images as often as every minute…” Schmit told Government Matters. “If you’re only monitoring something every 15 to 30 minutes, you might have missed the entire development of a [storm] complex, but now… we have both visible and infrared or heat sensors on these satellites, so for example, we can look at the rapid cooling of a storm, and you can use that to indicate how severe that cell may or may not be.”