Climate change is going 3D

Robert Hudson Westover
Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service
January 30th, 2014 at 7:00PM

Understanding the effects of global warming, especially the amount of precipitation contained in clouds, has been limited by the use of decades-old satellite technology. But now a soon-to-be launched NASA satellite, the GPM Core Observatory, will literally add another dimension to seeing into the complexity of clouds and the precipitation they may or may not contain.

“The new GPM satellite will give scientists much clearer and more concise data on rainfall estimates with more continuous areal coverage giving us a three-dimensional visual understanding of the effects climate change is having on the planet as far precipitation is concerned,” said Dave Cleaves, the Forest Service’s Climate Change Advisor.

GPM will reduce the time needed to gather accurate data from days to hours. Three hours to be precise. Because every three hours the new satellite will not only take detailed pictures of cloud formations of all types, but through microwave technology it will be able to see clouds in 3D.

This new 3D technology will be combined with existing satellite and ground-based systems to help scientists to better forecast rainfall and the impacts of hurricanes, floods and droughts on forests and communities. The satellite will be launched this May.