DATABASE: Earth, Wind, and Water

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Science  08 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5596, pp. 1141
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5596.1141c

By detecting microwaves that radiate naturally from Earth and scatter in the atmosphere, satellites can build a picture of temperatures, rain and snow cover, and wind speed. A NASA-sponsored site serves up globe-spanning images made from these “passive microwave” data.

With user-friendly viewers, you can track the latest typhoon or hurricane churning across the Pacific or the Caribbean. Global maps of sea- surface temperature, oceanic wind speed, and precipitation go back 5 years. You can also see current global microwave temperatures at sea level or higher in the stratosphere, depending on the wavelength that you click. The Temperature Trends page gives you daily global average temperatures at various altitudes compared to the 20-year average. (So far this year, it's been about 0.1°C warmer at 1 kilometer.) Run by a collaboration called the Passive Microwave Earth Science Information Partner, the site also offers larger images and full custom data sets for experts.

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