Satellite Meteorology: Electromagnetic Radiation

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Education and Outreach

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  • Classroom Activities


Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS)


Electromagnetic radiation is the very basis for remote sensing technology. Everything emits electromagnetic radiation. More specifically, all objects with a temperature above absolute zero emit radiation. Because radiation can transport energy even without a medium, it is the only way in which the earth interacts with the rest of the universe. Remote sensing instruments on satellites seek to accurately measure electromagnetic energy radiating from the earth and atmosphere. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of remote sensing technology requires a deeper understanding of electromagnetic radiation (light) and the electromagnetic spectrum. In this module we'll review the basics of the the electromagnetic spectrum and make the connection between radiation theory and the images we get from weather satellites.

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