Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do I Need An Umbrella...Or Not?!

We tend to blame the meteorologist when local forecasts fail to meet our expectations, but let's not kill the messenger.   Meteorologists receive their data from sophisticated equipment that they then interpret on a local scale and what that means in terms of weather for given communities.  Several steps prior, at the sending end of this transmission are satellites officiated by governing factions such as NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Remote sensing has come far since the time of earths first aerial photographs in the 30's.  Satellite technology has moved from early prototypes in the 1950's to GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites) synchronous orbiting satellites.   Numbers of weather monitoring instruments currently help the administration track and advance warn of threatening conditions such as hurricanes and tornadoes.  The progress of such technologies is reported to be on the decline due to limited funding and budget cuts according to recent analysis completed by the National Research council May 2, 2012.

The number of monitoring instruments will go from 110 last year to less than 30 by the end of the decade according to the report.   Earth observation missions by NASA and NOAA are expected to decline from 23 to about 6 by 2020 as a result of these cuts.  The result?  Less data for our reporting agencies and professionals to make accurate forecasts and negative impacts on advance warning advisories for hazardous conditions.  So dress in layers, listen for high winds and hone your wet finger wind direction test abilities, because it seems our verbal weather writers have just had their pencils removed.


King, Ledyard. "Report warns of weather satellites' 'rapid decline'." USA Today 2 May 2012, online ed. Web. 8 May 2012. <http://www.usatoday.com/weather/news/story/2012-05-02/weather-satellites-forecast-storms/54708804/1>.

Arbogast, Alan F. Discovering Physical Geography. second ed. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2011. 355-59. Web. 22 Apr. 2012.

Report Warns of Rapid Decline in U.S. Earth Observation Capabilities. Environmental Protection, 7 2012. Web. 8 May 2012. <http://eponline.com/articles/2012/05/07/report-warns-of-rapid-decline-in-u.s.-earth-observation-capabilities.aspx>.

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