Satellites & Weather Forcasting

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The current headlines regarding “extreme weather events” occurring around the world and here in America left a curiosity about the history and technology used to forecast the Earth’s weather. Around the world meteorologists use technology such as satellites, infrared, radio, and radar transmissions, to help determine the most accurate forecast possible. However, even with the most advanced technology available, no predication is 100% accurate. Captain Robert Fitzroy of Great Britain started a forecasting system and did some of the first documented weather forecasting in 1863. Captain Fitzroy would send ships around Great Britain to observe incoming weather systems and to warn citizens of incoming weather. (Birkenheuer, 2002) However, Captain Fitzroy was often incorrect and faced many criticisms. Since the days of Captain Fitzroy, meteorology has saw great advances. The world of meteorology saw its greatest advances when man decided to travel into space. Over the last forty years, weather satellites have given us the ability to extend our capability to accurately forecast weather conditions. The United States’ first weather satellite was launched on April 1, 1960. It was known as TIROS I, the first of a series of polar orbit satellites launched throughout the 1960’s. TIROS is an acronym for Television Infrared Observation Satellite, referring to type cameras carried on board. (Morel, 2012) The satellite was 42 inches in diameter, 19 inches high and weighed 270 pounds. It also carried 9200 solar cells that served to charge the nickel-cadmium batteries. The video systems transmitted thousands of images showing cloud cover over the Earth. (Morel, 2012) These photographs provided valued information about the structure of large-scale cloud regimes. Although it was only operational for 78 days, TIROS I proved satellites would become a useful tool for measuring global weather conditions. (Morel, 2012) The first true geostationary weather satellite was known...
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