The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) operates meteorological satellites and makes these observation data available to its member states. Switzerland is also a member of this international organisation and is represented by MeteoSwiss.
The operation of meteorological satellites is extremely complex and entails very high costs. In 1986, 18 European countries therefore joined forces to found the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), based in Darmstadt, Germany. EUMETSAT is now an operational organisation with 30 member states. As a member state of EUMETSAT, Switzerland is able to benefit fully from the services offered by the organisation, whilst only having to fund 3.6% of the costs. This is a prime example of the importance of technical and scientific cooperation. MeteoSwiss represents Swiss national interests in this international organisation.
Growing importance of satellite monitoring
The remit of EUMETSAT includes the operation of meteorological satellites as well as the dissemination of observation data and their associated services to all member states. Moreover, the organisation is committed to researching new applications for meteorological satellites, and to expand their capabilities accordingly. For its work in developing and building new satellites and measurement systems, EUMETSAT is dependent on collaboration with other European institutions. In the area of satellite construction, for example, the organisation works closely with the European Space Agency (ESA).
International cooperation for satellite data
The requirements of the member states with regard to satellite monitoring vary from country to country. The primary requirement of national meteorological services is for data streams that are as complete as possible, thus enabling the organisations to fulfil their statutory tasks. Such continuity is also the fundamental prerequisite for satellite-based climate research. The importance of satellite data for climate research has grown substantially, and so EUMETSAT's work in archiving relevant satellite data collected over many years is becoming ever more valuable.
In order to make more effective use of the sophisticated and costly satellite-derived data, EUMETSAT coordinates, among other things, the so-called Satellite Application Facilities (SAF). National meteorological services provide their satellite data-processing expertise in the form of competence centres For its part, MeteoSwiss contributes to the Satellite Application Facility on Climate Monitoring (CM SAF).