Weather forecasting has never been as precise as it is today. That’s thanks in large part to Earth observation satellites, which record and deliver a variety of exact weather data. That data then gets fed into computer models to generate weather reports. One of those data is the level of water vapor in the atmosphere — that’s water that evaporates and turns into steam, making it practically invisible. When that steam (a gas) cools, we get clouds. Satellites run by the European Space Agency (ESA) and its American counterpart, NASA, monitor such developments. They make the process visible. And that’s extremely important for meteorologists. The better the data, the better meteorologists can forecast storms, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones and when and where those weather events will make landfall. But if they don’t have good data, those predictions can be wrong by hundreds of kilometers. The intrinsic radiation of steam molecules Weather satellites measure atmospheric steam, or water vapor, using passive sensors. Those sensors can detect very weak, microwave signals in a spectral band between 23.6 and 24 gigahertz (GHz). “The radiation is caused by the smallest changes in the speed at which water molecules rotate,” says Dr. Clemens Simmer, a… Read full this story
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