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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Animating Wind


                                                            GEOS global wind speed animation (credit GEOS-16/NOAA)

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintain a network of Geostationary Observational Environmental Satellites, GOES for short, that monitors the northern hemisphere on a continuous basis. Photography and data is gathered on temperatures; storm systems; atmospheric pressures, wind speeds, clouds, and other environmental features. All this data from the satellites is downloaded and processed by the Agency's information service (NESDIS) and the results are made freely available for weather forecasting. GOES are an 'early warning' system for potential extreme weather events including atmospheric rivers, tornadoes, and hurricanes. According to the Agency, these satellites are the most sophisticated weather and environmental monitoring system that exists to date.

Each stationary space platform carries cameras, the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), that captures images in both visible and infrared light. These instruments monitor features including: clouds, thunderstorms, rainfall, moisture, atmospheric motion, and volcanic ash. The IR sensors allow for measurements to be gathered at night for fog, smoke, and fire detection. Such information is critical to forecasters in the US and Canada.

With a recent global scale image an ABI motion-capture series of images provided important information on wind speeds and shear velocities at different height elevations by combining both visible and infrared measurements. In the photo and data animation, the red 'ticks' represent high level winds 23,000-46,000ft (7-14km) high; blue being mid-level winds 10,000-23,000ft (3-7km) in elevation; and yellow indicating winds below 10,000ft (less than 3km).

In an earlier NOAA example, color-enhanced, infrared motion captures utilized longwave IR bands to show storm cloud movements across several western US states. The infrared characterized atmospheric processes associated with thunderstorms. The clouds in the GOES animation, red and black, indicated a weather system that produced tornadoes, hail stones, and strong winds.

             Storm cloud movements in the western US, 7-29-2018 (credit: NOAA)

The importance of the GOES environmental monitoring satellites for improving weather forecasting and severe storm detection can not be understated. The data visualizations also show that information is beautiful as well. WHB


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