Realistic Weather Patterns

Realistic Weather Patterns - One can see clearly the...

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Realistic Weather Patterns The adjacent animation shows GOES-8 weather satellite images over a 72-hour period from Dec. 29, 1996, through Jan. 1, 1997. This is a geosynchrous satellite, which means that it orbits the Earth with the same period as the Earth's rotation and therefore appears to be essentially motionless over a fixed position on the Earth's surface. For GOES-8 this fixed position looks down on North and South America. In these composite images red indicates visible light (reflected sunlight), green indicates the 11 micron IR channel (thermal emission), and blue indicates the 3.9 micron channel (thermal + sunlight). At night the images are blue and green. The three periods of daylight in this 72 hour sequence are clearly visible as red-orange regions moving from East to West (right to left). In the IR channels, the natural intensity pattern has been inverted: warmer is darker, so that cool cloudtops stand out brightly.
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Unformatted text preview: One can see clearly the pronounced cloud flows associated with the strong westerlies at mid-latitudes in each hemisphere. (This is taken in Northern hemisphere Winter, so the heavier cloud cover in that hemisphere is not surprising.) Less obvious are the easterly trade winds and the polar easterlies, though one can see vestiges of each if one looks carefully. Also apparent are the swirling motions associated with frontal systems. These are particularly pronounced at the boundaries between the mid-latitude westerly and polar wind flows in each hemisphere. Here is a similar weather animation (1.49 MB animated GIF) using GOES-8/9 IR images for North America over a 2 day period from December 31, 1996 through January 1, 1997. The large weather systems that move ashore from the Pacific in this animation produced catastrophic flooding in California, Oregon, and Washington in early January, 1997....
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