US-Japanese climate-tracking satellite to launch in February

The United States and Japan announced the launch of a satellite that will be able to monitor in unprecedented detail climate changes across the globe.

NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will launch the new satellite on Feb. 27 from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center, the agencies said on Thursday.

The Global Precipitation Measurement satellite will provide advanced information on rainfall and snowfall several times a day to enhance the countries' understanding of the water and energy cycles that affect the globe's climate.

"Launching this core observatory and establishing the Global Precipitation Measurement mission is vitally important for environmental research and weather forecasting," Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington, said in a statement.

"Knowing rain and snow amounts accurately over the whole globe is critical to understanding how weather and climate impact agriculture, fresh water availability, and responses to natural disasters."

The agencies will use the data gathered by the satellite to improve weather forecasting and respond to extreme weather disasters like drought or severe snow storms.

The new information will also help climate researchers construct a more complete measure of the globe's water cycle, which will help improve climate change models and data.