Where do forecasters get data?

There is an amazing range of equipment in the sky, on the ground, at sea and in space to gather data for weather forecasters to work with. The main sources of data for weather forecasts are automated instruments at ground level on land and from weather buoys at sea. Satellites and airplanes also play an important part.

Unpiloted NASA drone_credit NASA_Dryden_Carla Thomas

This unpiloted NASA aircraft is used to fly over cyclones and measure the internal structure of a storm (c) NASA/Dryden/Carla Thomas

Weather from space

Data from weather satellites are used in areas where other data sources are not available.  Satellite data gives global coverage, but at low accuracy. If the instrument is on the ground or within the Earth's atmosphere, it gives more accurate readings.

Weather satellite_93537391

Weather satellite

Satellites scan the earth using radiometers that detect either visible, infrared or microwave radiation. They then form digital images which are transmitted to stations on earth. For more about how these satellites and other remote techniques such as radar are used to support weather forecasting, see:

NASA Satellite Data_showing hurricanes

This GOES satellite image from September 2 shows hurricanes Gustav (over Texas), Hanna (in the Bahamas), Ike and Josephine (both over open water) (c) NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Have a look at Weather measurements from a distance to learn more about gathering weather data.

Weather Data Experiment

weather Schools across the UK can report local weather to help improve forecast
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