Basics of atmospheric science by A. Chandrasekar

By A. Chandrasekar


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The distribution of surface meteorological observational stations in the developed western countries has an average separation of about 50 km. In relatively poor countries, the average separation between the surface meteorological stations may be of the order of 75 km to 100 km. Many of the developed countries are installing fully automatic weather stations to increase the surface network of meteorological stations. These automatic weather stations, in addition to reducing the costs incurred towards manpower, also require minimal maintenance and repair costs.

The sensor utilized in such passive satellites is sensitive to one or more wavelengths bands in the visible and the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The field of view from the passive satellite sensor scans line-by-line either by utilizing the equivalent of a television camera or by physically sweeping a very narrow-field radiometer across the view. The data is then sent in a sequential manner to a receiving station on earth for reconstruction of the entire picture. The limit of resolution of the picture is determined by the width of a scan line on the earth surface.

Hence, a radiometer measuring terrestrial radiation over wavelengths for which the atmosphere is transparent yields infrared picture highlighting the temperature of the ground or sea surface in the absence of clouds or the temperature of the surface of the cloud top when clouds are present. However, the infrared pictures corresponding to the wavelengths in the opaque atmosphere primarily reveal the distribution of temperature for the middle and upper troposphere. Passive sensors are also utilized to infer the temperature profiles of the atmosphere by making measurements at a number of different wavelengths in the infrared and microwave regions of the spectrum.

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