Ever wonder how we get upper air observations worldwide?

Welcome to the world of Radio Occultation. Since is is almost impossible to get the number of upper air observations that we as meteorologists desire, we have a way of estimating them. Many of us have a GPS receiver in our car, but I bet that you don’t know what else our GPS constellation can do. Up to 32 satellites are in use and orbiting the earth at any given time. These satellites emit a beam that can help us track our location here on earth, but they also can help give a temperature profile. Radio Occultation satellites in their most basic form are receivers of the radio waves emitted by the GPS satellites. These receivers travel in random orbits around the earth, and when they happen to align themselves with an emitted signal from a GPS satellite (1000’s of times per day), they measure how the beam bends and changes as it travels through easth’s atmosphere. As the temperature varies through different depths of our atmosphere, the radio waves will bend and change speed ever so slightly. The Radio Occulatation satellites receive this change and calculate an atmospheric sounding very similar to what we see from actual weather balloon launches. All of this data then goes into creating our global weather models and works to give a more complete picture of our weather pattern.

Check out this awesome website to see LIVE radio occultations! You can even tell when to look up on a dark evening and see these satellites!



Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on June 29, 2010

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