EUMETSAT (EUropean organisation for the exploitation of METeorological SATellites)

EUMETSAT is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1986. Its purpose is to supply weather and climate-related satellite data, images and products to the national Meteorological Services of its Member and Cooperating States in Europe, and other users worldwide.

Belgium has been a Member State since its founding in 1986. EUMETSAT has seen the successful launch and operation of 11 geostationary satellites and 3 polar satellites, with many more of both orbit types to come. The data are continuously acquired and distributed among its user base 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They have proved instrumental in weather forecasting for decades, and have contributed much to the monitoring and understanding of the Earth's climate.

Apart from purely weather and climate-driven operations, the data gathered by EUMETSAT's satellites is also being used extensively in research. EUMETSAT has set up a SAF (Satellite Application Facilities) network providing operational services in eight specific fields:

  • Ocean and Sea Ice;
  • Support to Operational Hydrology and Water Management;
  • Atmospheric Composition Monitoring;
  • Numerical Weather Prediction;
  • Climate Monitoring;
  • Radio Occultation Meteorology;
  • Support to Nowcasting and Very Short Range Forecasting;
  • Land Surface Analysis.

The EUMETSAT satellite systems are integrated into a world-wide observational network coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Belgian representation is provided by the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) and the Belgian Science Policy.

The SAF (Satellite Application Facility) network consists of a consortium of institutes from EUMETSAT's Member States and delivers a number of thematic meteorological and environmental products on a continuous basis. Several Belgian institutions are involved in the SAFs:

  • The Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI):
    • Climate Monitoring (CM SAF)
    • Land Surface Analysis (LSA SAF)
    • Operational Hydrology and Water Management (H SAF)
    • Atmospheric Composition (AC SAF)
  • The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO):
    • Land Surface Analysis (LSA SAF)
  • The  Belgian Royal Institute for Space Aeronomy  (BIRA-IASB):
    • Atmospheric Composition (AC SAF)
  • The Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB):
    • Atmospheric Composition (AC SAF)


Pieter Rottiers
Space Research & Applications