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satellite meteorology[′sad·əl‚īt ‚mēd·ē·ə′räl·ə·jē]
the branch of meteorology that develops methods of obtaining and using meteorological data through equipment carried by meteorological satellites. By means of television and infrared equipment, images of the earth can be obtained day and night. These images permit the characteristics of the structure and distribution of the cloud cover to be studied and make it possible to determine the temperature of the underlying surface or the cloud top. The classification of the large-scale structures of the cloud cover and the establishment of their relations to weather-forming processes laid the foundation for the satellite analysis of clouds (nephanalysis), which involves the interpretation of cloud-cover pictures to determine the synoptic situation. Data obtained by satellite techniques provides an important supplement, especially over the oceans and in the tropics, to information on the state of the atmosphere obtained from ground stations; as a result, the quality of weather forecasts is improved. Satellite information is particularly important for the timely identification, tracking, and forecasting of tropical storms and hurricanes. Satellite pictures of the underlying surface permit valuable data to be obtained on ice and snow cover.
The equipment carried by meteorological satellites also includes actinometric instruments for measuring the solar radiation reflected into space by the earth and the heat radiation that the earth emits into space. As a result, the planetary distribution patterns of heat inflow and outflow can be studied. This fact is of particular importance for investigations of the variability of climate and for climate forecasting. The problem of temperature sounding of the atmosphere has been solved. This problem involves deducing the vertical air temperature profile from the data of spectrometer measurements of outgoing radiation in the region of the 15-micrometer band of carbon dioxide. Important advances have been made in determining the vertical profiles of the concentrations of water vapor and ozone. Methods have been developed for determining at a distance such parameters as soil moisture and the content of small gaseous and aerosol components (including pollutants) in the atmosphere.
A global satellite system for meteorological observations is being developed in connection with preparations for the first worldwide experiment of the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP). Such a system should have several satellites in polar orbits and four or five geostationary satellites. The geostationary satellites would permit continuous monitoring of the development of weather-forming processes in the equatorial and subtropical latitudes.
REFERENCESKondrat’ev, K. Ia., and Iu. M. Timofeev. Termicheskoezondirovanie atmosfery so sputnikov. Leningrad, 1970.
Minina, L. S. Praktika nefanaliza. Leningrad, 1970.
Kondrat’ev, K. Ia. “Sputnikovaia meteorologiia.” In Itogi nauki i tekhniki: Meteorologiia i klimatologiia, vol. 3. Moscow, 1976.
K. IA. KONDRATEV