Temperature is one of the basic measurements used for studying and predicting the weather. Thermal infrared satellites have been used to monitor the Earth's weather, studying both day and nighttime cloud cover, as well as cloud temperatures and heights. Chances are that the live weather maps you see on the evening news are infrared maps. Satellite infrared sensors are used to study hurricanes and tornadoes. At night, infrared observations are used to detect tornado-producing supercell thunderstorms which cannot be seen by visible light observations. Infrared remote sensing from NOAA/NASA is also used to detect and monitor the spread of volcanic clouds. This is especially important for airline safety - numerous flights have encountered volcanic clouds and for some this has resulted in loss of engine power. Another important application of infrared sensing is in the study of the Earth's radiation budget. The Earth receives and reflects radiation from the Sun and also radiates its own energy in the infrared. These processes drive our weather.

Infrared Image of the Earth Showing Upper Air Water Vapor Temperatures and An Infrared View of Hurricane Linda. The color of the clouds indicate their temperatures and heights with purple being the warmest and lowest and white being the coldest and highest.

Classroom Experiments and Lesson Plans:

Links to weather related infrared images and animations:

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