Meteorologists are responsible for monitoring the atmospheric conditions that influence the climate. To predict the weather, meteorology scientists initially used rudimentary equipment. As science advanced, they began to use more efficient devices for data acquisition and weather forecasting. These technological advances enabled meteorologists to make better predictions faster than ever before. Meteorologists use several methods to collect and analyze data needed for making reliable weather predictions.
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Meteorologists and climatologists use several methods of weather prediction. For example, simulation methods, persistence and trend methods, and weather forecasting through the use of supercomputers in numerical or statistical weather forecasting.
Doppler radar and satellite data
One of the most essential tools is a network of 159 high-resolution S-band Doppler weather radars (NEXRAD) operated by the National Weather Service (NWS), an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Using these radars, meteorologists are able to observe severe tropical storms. It is able to detect all types of precipitation patterns, rotation of storm clouds, remains of tornadoes and the strength and direction of wind.
Weather satellites on the other hand, monitor the earth from space and collect observational data. Polar orbiting satellites capture images of every point on the planet as it rotates on its axis. These satellites take six or seven detailed images a day. Geosynchronous satellites focus on the same point on Earth and take images of the entire planet at a frequency of up to 30 seconds.
The satellite of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is directed towards the sun to observe solar storms and space weather.
Radiosondes and supercomputers
Radiosondes are meteorologists primary source of upper-air data. These are battery-powered telemetry device packages that are carried into the atmosphere by a weather balloon. On its two-hour journey, the radiosonde floats into the upper stratosphere, where it collects and transmits data. It measures air pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and cosmic ray readings at high altitudes, every second.
Another tool used by researchers is supercomputing. Supercomputers are almost six million times more powerful than the average desktop computer. The data collected by radiosondes, radars and satellites are fed into computerized numerical prediction models. These models use equations which, together with other meteorological data, provide a fairly reliable prediction guide for meteorologists.
The advanced weather interactive processing system (AWIPS)
AWIPS is a computer-aided processing system that combines data from all the above tools in a graphical interface. This system is used by most meteorologists to generate weather forecasts, warnings and alarms.
Once the scientists have made forecasts, AWIPS generates weather maps and warnings. All these tools help meteorologists to make more accurate and faster weather forecasts. What Is a Star and How Are They Formed?