Very high resolution meteorological satellite study of oil sands weather "A feasibility study"

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  • Imagery from both meteorological and environmental satellite sensor systems was analyzed to determine its applicability in monitoring weather conditions at the Alberta oil sands. Two sensor systems were the objects of investigation, the multispectral scanner (MSS) aboard the environmental LANDSAT satellites and the Very High Resolution Radiometer (VHRR) aboard the NOAA meteorological satellites. Weather conditions such as clear and cold, convective cloudiness, and widespread precipitation were studied with the available satellite imagery. The images and known weather conditions were then compared to determine the capability of the satellite-based sensors to identify specific meteorological phenomena. Particulate and thermal conditions of rivers and lakes were also considered. LANDSAT could resolve meteorological features, such as single cloud elements, but since a given spot is observed only once every nine days, it is quite unsuitable for studying the motion of weather patterns. Slow-changing phenomena such as lake ice, snow cover and particulate content of water bodies are more effectively defined. NOAA satellites provide the twice-daily coverage needed for monitoring fog, smoke, plumes, and small-scale cloud patterns. Unfortunately, the resolution of the NOAA-VHRR was generally inadequate for identification of small meteorological features associated with industrial development. Satellites of the near future will have better instruments for covering the meteorology of the oil sands but no combination of their output is expected to provide ideal time and space resolution. Future studies of this type should find satellite images easily available because of rapidly improving Canadian sources and because of the explanation of image acquisition given in this study.

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