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Weather Talk: Satellite forecast contribution

The satellite picture is a tool we use in broadcast meteorology to show clouds and it is a relatively modern technology. The first weather satellite, Tiros I, was launched on April 1, 1960. It took about 20 years, but by the early 1980s, the tech...

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The satellite picture is a tool we use in broadcast meteorology to show clouds and it is a relatively modern technology.

The first weather satellite, Tiros I, was launched on April 1, 1960.  It took about 20 years, but by the early 1980s, the technology was developed to get those satellite images of clouds into our weather shows. 

Weather satellites are geosynchronous, which means they are in orbit about 22,000 miles above the equator, in harmony with the earth’s rotation, so that they remain above the same spot.  In this way, they can take pictures at regular intervals which show us how clouds are changing with time.  In addition to the visible light spectrum, weather satellites also “look” at clouds through the infrared spectrum, allowing us to “see” where the clouds are at night. 

This method is imperfect as it is really “looking” at temperature so the meteorologist can make an educated guess at which temperature patterns are clouds and which are not.  

 

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