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Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch

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CIRA Virtual Resource Library

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Brief Description


VisitView Builder- Used to prepare and deliver material for internet training

is a software application that allows the user to assemble and present online collaborative training sessions using the internet. Visit stands for Virtual Institute for Satellite Remote Training. Read a conference paper describing Visitview

VisitVIEW buidler tutorial


McIDAS – Used to display and manipulate digital satellite data

is a software package from the Space Science and Engineering Centre at the Univeristy of Wisconsin for displaying and manipulating meteorological data, particularly satellite data. Click here to read about the McIDAS history. Visit the McIDAS home page requires internet connection.

Using McIDAS – If you access data remotely, create a folder within C:DATA\GOES and load your data into the new folder. When accessing and loading data use the general command sequence given in the paper “specialdataexercise.doc” which was used to analyze the 10FEB2005 case (REDIRECT ADD AREA* “//dev/fs/C/DATA/GOES/folder name).   Note that commands into McIDAS are case sensitive!


Envi FreeLook – Used to create 3 channel color combinations

ENVI FreeLook is designed to provide basic viewing, data selection, and data quality assessment capabilities for a wide variety of image data. While it offers considerable functionality, it is not an image processing system. For a complete software package with full image processing capabilities, please consider evaluating ENVI, the Environment for Visualizing Images. ENVI technical information is available on the ENVI Homepage at or at, or by contacting Research Systems Inc. at 303-786-9900 or


SATAID – Used to access and display digital satellite data

software has been developed by the Japan Meteorological Agency to diaplay and manipulate LRIT data. In addition to its use for operational purposes it can also be used as a standalone training tool for producing and running case studies. Click here to read a conference paper by one of the software writers. Click here to read the tutorial and exercises on using SATAID.

The SATAID software suite also has an additional application to allow users to download realtime data. This application is known as LRIT. At the present time only data from the Western Pacific is available. In the future it should be possible to download data for all areas of the globe.

Click here to start SATAID via internet to access realtime data for the Western Pacific Region


Hydra – Used to investigate multispectral data

is another application from the Space Science and Engineering Centre. This application is used to display and interact with multispectral data, in particular allow channel arithmetic, cross sections across images and scatter plots. Click here for a conference paper on this application. Click here for a tutorial on the use of Hydra.


AHABS – Used to perform principal component analysis on digital satellite imagery

is an IDL application to analyse multispectral imagery, in particular to investigate the principle component eigenvectors of the image. To run AHABS you need to have the IDL runtime installed.


WMO Technical Document 1078 “Applications with Meteorological Satellites” by Dr. W. Paul Menzel (2001). Written as a college level text book covering the application of satellite data and remote sensing.

This publication covers the basic radiation theory of remote sensing and then outlines application areas such as the derivation of atmospheric motion vectors and soundings.

An updated version (March 2005) is also enclosed.

Updated Version (March 2005)

Analysis and Use of Satellite Imagery

JMA publication of 6 chapters outlining the use of satellite imagery (English)

The publication, “Analysis and Use of Meteorological Satellite Images” has just been issued by the staff members of Analysis Division of MSC through the preparation for several years. This publication is based on the effort of the previous publications but refreshed to provide new imagery and the latest knowledge and to be used as a reference book for satellite image analysis. This publication was initially intended for the use in the Analysis Division, to improve satellite image analysis techniques, but the authors would be pleased if it can contribute to the use of satellite images in the weather forecasting operations at the meteorological and hydrological services.

THE ROLE OF SATELLITES IN WMO PROGRAMMES IN THE 2010s This document, a WMO publication on “The Role of Satellites in WMO programmes in the 2010s” is intended to update the last comparable publication entitled: “The Role of Satellites in WMO programmes in the 1980s” by D.S. Johnson and I.P. Vetlov published in 1977. This update was prepared by three primary authors: Dr G. Asrar, Dr T. Mohr and Mr G. Withee, with assistance from additional experts as identified and recruited by the primary authors. WMO Members involved in the Consultative Meetings on High-Level Policy on Satellite Matters felt strongly that the new publication would be of great importance to WMO Members, not only to the NMHSs but also the larger communities among the Members. For example, such users would include policy decision-makers or those involved with the IPCC assessment process. It is envisioned that there will be widespread use of the new publication by many user communities as nations progress into the new century and prepare for a new set of societal and environmental challenges across the globe. Complete document
Reports by the international satellite agencies The meteorological community and associated environmental disciplines such as climatology including global change, hydrology and oceanography all over the world are now able to take advantage of a wealth of observational data, product and services flowing from specially equipped and highly sophisticated environmental observation satellites. An environmental observation satellite is an artificial Earth satellite providing data on the Earth system and a meteorological satellite is a type of environmental satellite providing meteorological observations. This publication outlines the Space based component of the Global Observing System and the activities of the main operational space agencies


Description and link

MODIS Data from Terra and Aqua

Some of these data are great for teaching, and even near real-time uses.  If you see something you really like you can order the data.  The electronic notebooks can be used to analyze the digital data using the Hydra tool.

There is a web-sight from which you can get both near real time and retrospective MODIS. The data can be accessed at various resolutions from 250 meters to 4 km.  When you get to the site you choose the day from a calendar, and then go to the overpass map to see orbits in which you would be interested. Then when you select the day, thumbnail pictures of what are termed granules appear for the entire day.  When you select a particular thumbnail there is a globe the left that will show the area you’ve chosen.  Go to   


GOES Case study data

From the CIRA-RAMM VL site. The CIRA-RAMM Team Virtual Laboratory is intended to provide access to interesting sets of digital GOES satellite images to educational institutions, professional forecasters and research scientists.   These files are in McIDAS data format only, making them accessible for those with RAMSDIS (-X), GARP and UNIDATA-McIDAS workstations.    Self-extracting compressed files (with a .EXE extension) are also available, each containing several of the McIDAS-formatted data files.

Select the link to a particular case study. Within the text you will see instructions on how to get the data via ftp. Both GOES-9 and GOES-8 digital, McIDAS formatted data, that cover the area and time of interest, can be found on the CIRA-RAMM Team’s FTP server.  Log on to “” (or “”), using “anonymous” and then your e-mail address for the password.  Then follow instructions for the specific case selected.