Satellites and Radar – A primer ATMO 203. Satellites Two main types of satellite orbits – Geostationary Earth Orbiting Satellite is 35,786 km (22,236.
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Presentation on theme: "Satellites and Radar – A primer ATMO 203. Satellites Two main types of satellite orbits – Geostationary Earth Orbiting Satellite is 35,786 km (22,236."— Presentation transcript:
Satellites Two main types of satellite orbits – Geostationary Earth Orbiting Satellite is 35,786 km (22,236 mi.) above sea level Stays above a given spot on Earth – Low Earth Orbiting Only 500 miles above ground Also called “polar orbiter” Allows good view of polar regions Passes by every part of Earth every 12 hours
Main Types of Satellite Imagery Visible Imagery Infrared Imagery Water Vapor Imagery
Visible Imagery (VIS) How it works: – VIS measures the sun’s radiation reflected back to the satellite by the Earth – Things with high albedo (clouds, ice, snow) show up brightly on VIS – Things with low albedo (Earth’s surface) show up as dark – 1 km resolution (North America) – Wavelength: 0.52 to 0.72 μm range
VIS cont’d. Advantages: – Can easily identify cloud types – Can see small-scale features Fronts, outflow boundaries, dust plumes, smoke – Fog and stratus can easily be seen – Identify developing convection Disadvantage – Since VIS is sunlight dependent, can only be used during the day.
Infrared Imagery (IR) How it works: – Measures brightness temperature by thermal radiation emitted by Earth – Dark areas correspond to high thermal radiation (warm), and bright areas correspond to low thermal radiation (cold) i.e. Dark = Warm, Bright = Cold – Thus, higher cloud tops appear brighter, and low-level clouds appear darker – Resolution: 4 km (GOES), 1 km (POES) – Wavelength: 11 μm
IR (cont’d) Advantages: – Easy to determine a general cloud top height i.e. Upper air, mid-level, low-level – Available 24 hours a day Esp. useful at night, when VIS is unavailable Disadvantages – Low-level clouds (esp. fog) can be invisible on IR, as they may have the same temperature as the ground – During extreme cold outbreaks, the cold land may look like a large cirrostratus deck, even if it’s clear
Water Vapor Imagery (WV) How it works: – Water vapor absorbs the earth’s emitted radiation in the 6 to 7 μm wavelength range – WV imagery looks for where the radiation in this range is weak. Where it is weak, it has been absorbed by water vapor. – Thus, weak radiation signatures (which appear bright) correspond to moisture, and strong radiation signatures (which appear dark) correspond to dry conditions – Resolution: 8 km, Main wavelength: 6.7 μm
WV (cont’d) Advantages: – Good at assessing mid to upper-level moisture in warm tropospheric environments – Great for locating subtropical jet Disadvantages – Only works well in the middle troposphere (between 350-650 mb) – Works best in warm atmosphere Cold surface emits less radiation, so may appear bright – Says nothing about low-level moisture!!***
Radar How it works: – A transmitter creates a high-frequency signal – An antenna sends the signal out into space – The signal bounces off an object, is scattered in all directions, even back towards the radar – The antenna receives the echo back – A receiver detects and amplifies the signal – A display shows you what the radar detected
Radar Weather radars send out short pulses of energy Then, they wait for the signal to go out (at the speed of light), hit a target, and return Then, after an appropriate wait, another pulse is sent out. The cycle continues….
Radar This may sound like it takes a while, but keep in mind this process last only milliseconds A weather radar can send out and receive anywhere from hundreds to over 2000 pulses per second!
Radar – Detection of “Things” The bigger the object, the bigger the echo the radar detects (though there are subtleties that may render this untrue on rare occasions) Small rain (mist/drizzle) appears as weak echo (low reflectivity) Large objects (heavy rain, hail, buildings) appear as strong echo (high reflectivity)
Radar – What can be detected? Precipitation – Rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, graupel, hail Non-precipitation (clear air return) – Birds, insects, bats, solar spikes, anomalous propagation (AP), ground clutter AP is caused by the atmosphere bending the radar beam downward, so the radar is detecting the ground On a radar image, AP appears splotchy, with high reflectivities next to low reflectivities
Doppler radar Most weather radars are equipped with Doppler capability Sparing you the physics, Doppler radar just means that radial velocities of precipitation (or objects, such as bats) can be determined. Radial Velocity – The component of an object’s velocity to or from the radar – An object can have zero radial velocity, but have a non-zero velocity!