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Collecting Weather Data

The instruments scientists use to measure weather conditions, include advanced tools like satellites and radar.

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Weather Forecasting

Weather Forecasting


Credit: NASA
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lake_Effect_Snow_on_Earth.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Weather satellites can see the beginnings of lake-effect snow as cold air passes over a warmer lake and picks up moisture. These clouds indicate snow!

News You Can Use

Credit: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Doppler_Weather_Radar_-_NOAA.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

National Severe Storms Lab's first Doppler Weather Radar (Oklahoma, 1973) [Figure2]

  • Weather predictions are about twice as good as they were as recently as 25 years ago. Forecasts are now 90% accurate.
  • One reason for this improvement is weather satellites.
  • Doppler radar uses Doppler shift for weather information.
  • Weather satellites are aging or past their expiration dates, potentially leaving us with a gap in weather prediction information.

Can You Apply It?

With the links below, learn more about weather forecasting. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How much better was hurricane prediction in 2008 (when the article was written) than it was in 1985? What does that mean on the ground?
  2. Why are hurricane predictions continuing to improve?
  3. What does Doppler radar detect?
  4. What are the problems facing our ability to predict the weather in the near future?
  5. If weather prediction capability went down by 10 years, what could be the effect on the U.S. economy?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lake_Effect_Snow_on_Earth.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL); Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Doppler_Weather_Radar_-_NOAA.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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