Weather or Not:
Images From Weather Satellites Provide More Than Just A Forecast

El Chichon Volcano

Compare El Chichon Images (35k)

Sensors on the NOAA-6 meteorological satellite gathered data to produce images of the ash plume from the 1983 eruption of the Mexican volcano El Chichon. On the left is a scene in visible light. The view on the right is thermal infrared. Red represents cooler temperatures and blue indicates warmer areas. The main section of the ash plume is relatively cool because it has been ejected high into the atmosphere where temperatures are very cold. This plume reached heights in excess of 17 kilometers (about 11 miles).

Beyond its geological and meteorological applications, imagery such as this also helps aircraft avoid dangerous concentrations of ash.
Courtesy of National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, NOAA


Compare Montserrat Images (20k)

NOAA-15 images of the ash cloud from the Soufriere Hills volcano on the Island of Montserrat, October 26, 1999. The image to the left is in visible light. The image to the right has had water vapor data removed to highlight the ash plume.
Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Compare dust cloud Images (35k)

Air pollution, haze, and dust can be detected on weather satellite imagery. These NOAA-15 images reveal the presence of a dust cloud over western China on April 29, 1999. The image on the left depicts the dust as an area of light brown haze. The image on the right has had water vapor data removed making the dust cloud appear white.
Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Imagery courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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