Weather UK Satellites

satellite weather uk

There are two main types of weather satellite – polar and geostationary. Both see the same part of the Earth every 12 hours and send back images to be processed into a weather forecast.

One of these is the European operated geostationary Meteosat which ideally sits over the Greenwich meridian to observe the weather systems that affect the UK and Europe.


Visible satellite imagery is a great way to find out what the weather is like outside. These satellites take a photograph from space called an image and it shows us what the clouds are doing as well as what is on the ground. This is especially useful when looking for rain clouds or fog on the ground as the cloud tops are visible.

These cameras also capture the light reflected by the clouds and land, this is called the albedo or reflectivity and it can give you a good idea what the surface of the earth looks like. The oceans absorb most of the sunlight and are dark, whereas snow and thick clouds reflect a lot of the light and appear white on an image.

The albedo and the IR or infrared are both good ways to see the clouds and the sky, but the IR image is probably the most important because it displays a lot more information than the other two and can help you identify different types of clouds and what sort of storms are building. The IR image also lets you see the sun and the moon which is not as easy to do from ground level.

As you can see from the IR image, some cloud types are much bigger than others and it is the IR camera that allows the weather agency to get a clear picture of these big guys in the sky. This is especially useful when trying to predict when a thundershower will occur and it can let you know where the best places are to be safe.

This type of satellite image is also the highest resolution available on weatherTAP with one pixel representing about 1km square. This is the same resolution as a smartphone camera, so you can really see all the details of these images.

Typically, these are taken every 5 to 15 minutes and they can be animated to give you a real time view of the weather in your area. They are also a great way to see what is happening in the skies over the UK and Ireland as you can see rain, lightning and even satellites in action.


When a satellite is in the sky it can take thermal images of the earth which are used to detect rain, snow, fog or other weather features. This is similar to what police use when they are trying to find someone at night using a thermal infrared image, except that instead of using a camera, the satellite uses heat energy from the sun to capture the temperature of the ground and clouds.

Infrared satellite imagery can be very useful at night, but it can be tricky to interpret as low clouds or fog can sometimes have similar temperatures to the surrounding areas, so it can be difficult to distinguish between them and the surface of the Earth. This can be resolved through differencing data collected at different IR wavelengths to extract the area of low cloud or fog.

Besides detecting cloud top temperatures, infrared imagery can also be used to detect the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. This is a very useful tool for meteorologists because it allows them to identify areas that are likely to receive precipitation in the future, as well as areas that may already have rainfall.

The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) produces global, calibrated infrared and visible radiance data. These satellite products use imaging radiometers onboard the AVHRR and several geostationary satellites to derive cloud and surface parameters from infrared and visible spectral bands.

In addition to providing accurate information on the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, this type of data is also useful for hydrological applications, such as estimating flood risk and stream flow. In regions where there is no ground-based instrumentation, the need for satellite-derived precipitation information at high spatial and temporal resolution has grown.

One way to achieve this is through a technique called multisensor multiplatform satellite precipitation monitoring. This uses a combination of geostationary satellite imagery and data from passive and active microwave instruments on multiple platforms in lower orbits.

Another way to obtain this type of data is through a technique called enhanced infrared imagery. Enhanced infrared imagery has color schemes that help to enhance colder cloud tops on the image, which can be especially helpful for identifying areas of convective storms or rain.


Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth above 35 000 km and are in sync with the Earth’s rotation. This means they remain in the same position for much of the day, allowing meteorologists to monitor rapidly developing weather events.

These are the first type of satellites launched into space, and they still have an important role in our ability to see the earth’s surface and monitor our planet’s climate. This information allows forecasters to create maps and sequences of images that allow the public to view weather conditions in more detail than they would otherwise be able to see with their naked eyes.

In the past, the only way to see what was going on in the planet’s atmosphere was to look at satellites that flew overhead, but these weren’t the best resolutions. So, the first satellites were launched into a higher orbit, which allowed them to collect data with a better resolution than polar-orbiting satellites could provide.

The first geostationary environmental satellite was ATS-1, launched in 1966. It was the first of many to come and it carried a special instrument called a spin-scan cloud camera that provided visible images of the earth’s sky.

Eventually, other satellites came with more sophisticated instruments and improved resolution. This has resulted in more accurate weather forecasting.

Another important function of a geostationary satellite is that it can detect the movement of storms in the air. This is a vital part of short-term weather forecasting, also known as nowcasting.

This is done by comparing the amount of solar energy falling on a cloud with how much the sky looks brighter or darker. It can help forecasters know when to watch for severe weather such as tornadoes, flash floods and hailstorms.

It can also help forecasters track the development of hurricanes and tropical storms. This can help forecasters know when to take action before tropical storms turn into major hurricanes or large tropical cyclones.

The newest generation of geostationary satellites is the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R series (GOES-R) which was launched in November 2016. This will replace the aging GOES-13 and GOES-16 which are now referred to as GOES East and West, and it will carry six different instruments for monitoring land and ocean parameters.


Weather uk satellites are used to monitor the weather in many different ways. They can be used for weather forecasts, predicting a flood or a snowfall, or even to help us find out about a natural disaster.

There are two main types of meteorological satellite: geostationary and polar. The former are positioned over the Earth’s equator and orbit the earth once a day, while the latter circle at a lower altitude (850 km, 530 miles) above the Earth.

These satellites are able to collect more detailed data than their geostationary counterparts because they are much closer. This means they can gather information about violent storms, allowing them to give more accurate forecasts.

A series of satellites called the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) are being launched by NOAA and NASA to monitor the weather in a polar orbit. These satellites will provide global observations that will support both short- and long-term forecasts and enable us to more accurately predict severe weather three to seven days in advance.

The JPSS fleet includes five satellites: Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and NOAA-20 are currently in operation, and the next two will be launched into space in 2019.

Each polar satellite in the JPSS fleet circles the globe 14 times each day. This allows them to view the whole Earth twice each day, so that they can take pictures of every part of it.

It also means they can make measurements of the atmosphere from a far greater distance, giving them a better resolution than their geostationary counterparts. This is particularly useful for observing the polar regions of the Earth where it can be difficult to photograph the entire sky.

Another advantage of polar orbiting satellites is that they are in sun-synchronous orbits, meaning that the same location is observed twice each day at the same local time. This is crucial in ensuring the accuracy of the data they gather and is especially important when dealing with the polar regions as it will prevent any potential errors.

There are also some smaller satellites that can be used to collect information from the Earth, such as RadFxSat and EagleSat. These are often used to measure radiation levels and can be of use in a number of applications including Search and Rescue communications. These satellites are usually a fraction of the size of their geostationary counterparts but their sensors can still produce images with good resolution.

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