Satellite images help scientist on the VOCALS campaign see patterns in clouds over the Southeastern Pacific Ocean. This image shows pockets of open cells (POCs) in stratocumulus clouds.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of the MODIS Science Team at NASA GSFC
Satellites in the VOCALS Field Campaign
Many types of data from satellites are used throughout the VOCALS field campaign. Satellite observations complement data gathered from airplanes and ships to provide a more detailed overall picture of the climate of the Southeast Pacific. Measurements taken at closer range from ships and aircraft also help fine-tune the calibration of satellite-based remote sensing techniques.
Satellites provide VOCALS atmospheric scientists with lots of data about clouds and the atmosphere. Satellite images show details of cloud distribution, especially the "pockets of open cells" (POCs) that are common in the VOCALS study area. Satellite sensors measure the amount of sunlight reflected back into space by clouds, helping scientists better understand Earth's radiation budget. Instruments on satellites help scientists determine wind speed and direction near Earth's surface, the distribution of aerosol particles in the atmosphere, and the size and density of water droplets within clouds.
Satellites also observe characteristics of the ocean. They provide information on sea surface temperature, ocean currents, plankton concentrations, and even the height of the ocean surface. As you might imagine, data from ships and buoys complement the measurements taken from space.
Numerous NASA satellites contribute data to VOCALS scientists. They include Terra, Aqua, CloudSat, and QuikSCAT (NASA/JPL). The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, a cooperative venture between NASA and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), also provides important data. NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) GOES-10 satellite generates valuable visible and infrared images of clouds in the Southeast Pacific. GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
What if you wanted to learn more about the climate system of a very large area such as the Southeast Pacific Ocean? What would be involved in studying how the oceans, land, and atmosphere interact? You...more
There are several regions in the world where low-lying stratus and stratocumulus clouds are frequently present and an important part of climates. It turns out that these regions also play an important...more
The Southeast Pacific region typically has extensive stratocumulus cloud cover over the ocean. These offshore clouds can contain clear areas in the clouds that scientists call "pockets of open cells,"...more
Sunlight streams into Earth's atmosphere from space. Some is reflected away by clouds and snow-covered landscapes. Light that makes it to the ground is absorbed and heats Earth's surface and oceans. The...more
Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates different pressures in the atmosphere which creates the winds around the globe. Since the Earth spins,...more
Aerosols, also called particulates, are tiny bits of solid or liquid suspended in the air. Some aerosols are so small that they are made only of a few molecules – so small that they are invisible because...more
The water at the ocean surface is moved primarily by winds. Large scale winds move in specific directions because they are affected by Earth’s spin and the Coriolis Effect. Because Earth spins constantly,...more