by: UW-Madison Space Science • 92
WxSat (short for Weather Satellite) displays and animates full-resolution, real-time weather satellite data. WxSat leverages SSEC Data Center holdings to provide global coverage for visible, infrared, and water vapor channels.
Several geostationary and polar orbiting weather satellites around the globe continuously capture observations of the earth. These data are acquired by the SSEC Data Center which has one of the most extensive collections of real-time and archived weather satellite data in the world. A server dedicated to WxSat blends the images into single hourly global composites for three different products (Visible, Infrared, and Water Vapor). The server stages the most complete hourly images (backfilled when necessary) every hour at 36 minutes past the hour. This allows for a majority of the satellite sources to be included in the composites. These hourly composites are staged for WxSat and form the basis of the animations.
The names of the different images in WxSat refer to the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum the satellite sensors are sampling. The atmosphere is transparent to different types of radiation in certain areas of the spectrum called channels. The three most widely used atmospheric channels are the visible (0.6 microns), infrared (10 to 12 microns), and water vapor (6.5 to 6.9 microns). Scientist combine information provided from all three types of images to forecast the weather, monitor forest fires, ice flows, ocean currents, and long term climate patterns from the unique global perspective that only satellites can provide.