Contributions Of Space Observations

The launch of the first meteorological satellite TIROS-1 in April 1960 heralded the era of Space observations and gave the first glimpses of the dynamic cloud systems surrounding the Earth. Since then the technology has developed by leaps and bounds in observation capabilities in terms of spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions. A global system of Space observations with both geostationary and polar orbiting satellites has evolved.

The advantages of Space observations emanate from several factors such as:

• Synoptic view of large areas, bringing out the inter-relations of processes of different spatial scales.

• Frequent observations from geostationary satellites provide continuous monitoring while polar orbiting satellites give typical twice daily coverage; such data is relevant for study of weather system dynamics.

• The inherent spatial averaging is more representative than the point in-situ observations and readily usable for weather prediction models.

• High level of uniformity of space observations overcomes the problem of inter-calibration needed for ground based instruments.

• Filling of gaps in observations; Space data covers large oceanic areas and inaccessible and remote land areas, thus giving global coverage.

• New types of data and observations; parameters such as sea surface (skin) temperature, sea surface wind stress, sea level, cloud liquid water content, radiation balance, aerosol are some of the unique parameters provided only by satellites.

• Simultaneous observation of several dynamic parameters provided by different sensors in same platform facilitates study of inter-relationships and knowledge of processes (e.g. Sea Surface temperature and deep convection, cloud development and radiative forcing ).

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