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UNIT 10

SATELLITE, RADAR, AND LDATS IMAGERY INTERPRETATION

FOREWORD

Satellites, radar, and lightning detectors are 20th century additions to our arsenal of meteorological data-gathering equipment. Radar (radio detection and ranging) came into existence during World War II, while meteorological satellites were first launched in 1960. The lightning detection and tracking system (LDATS) came into being in the mid 1980’s. Meteorologists have studied the imagery produced by satellite sensors and radar in order to correlate it to the weather occurring at the time. Their findings are the basis of the first two lessons of this unit. Lesson 1 covers environmental satellite analysis, while lesson 2 covers the interpretation of weather echoes on radar. The lightning detection and tracking system presentations are discussed in lesson 3. 

Satellite imagery is very important because it provides weather informa-tion for many areas of Earth that have no weather observing stations or the observing network is inadequate. We just finished discussing one such area— the tropics. The polar latitudes are also lacking in their number of reporting stations. Even in midlatitudes, there are limited weather reports from over the vast oceanic areas. You will find satellite pictures extremely helpful in these areas, as well as in the more dense reporting areas. More often than not, imagery will provide the first indication of developing low-pressure centers, fronts, squall lines, and many other phenomena. These features can be located and tracked, thereby lending credence to your weather charts and briefings.

Radar is capable of providing us with weather information but on a much smaller scale than the satellite. The information is localized but extremely important, especially when tracking severe weather. Navy weather radars are limited in number and your weather office maybe without one, but most naval installations and ships have radars capable of detecting and displaying weather. In the event your office is without radar, coordinate with these other facilities to use their radars, especially when severe weather threatens your area. The LDATS is a relatively new system that permits us to locate and track thunderstorms by detecting lightning strokes within the atmosphere.

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