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The picture on the right shows how AIMS sees the world. The image on the left shows the same scene but using visible light. The red colors in the AIMS image indicate warm air rising from the west coast of the United States and the purple colors indicate cool air over the Pacific Ocean. Both pictures were taken on March 11, 2003.
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NASA/JPL

A New Look at Weather!
News story originally written on May 14, 2003

Predicting the weather is not an easy job, but it is becoming easier as new technologies are developed. NASA's Aqua satellite is one of these new technologies that are helping meteorologists make even better forecasts of short-term weather and long-term climate change.

Aboard the satellite, visible, infrared and microwave detectors are used together as part of the AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder) experiment that looks at the activity within Earth's atmosphere. The tools peer through all levels of the atmosphere, sensing different regions and creating a global three-dimensional map of temperature and humidity.

Even on a cloudy day these instruments are able to map the atmospheric conditions. In fact, the instruments provide a detailed look at clouds, including the thin cirrus clouds that increasingly shroud our planet due to global warming. They also record information about concentrations of various greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and methane.

The information gleaned by the instruments on this satellite will be used to create more detailed weather predictions and develop an even more accurate picture of how our climate is changing. We will be able to more accurately track severe weather events such as hurricanes.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California manages the experiment. According to project team leader Dr. Moustafa Chahine, "meteorologists around the world have been eagerly awaiting the availability of this processed AIRS data, and are already reporting measurable increases in the accuracy of their short-term weather predictions".

Last modified May 6, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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