click to enlarge
|Courtesy of MERIS data @ESA, University of Leicester|
Tropical Cyclone Yasi Seen from Space
Stunning images of tropical cyclone Yasi have been recorded by orbiting satellites. Japanese Meteorological Agency and European Space Agency instruments observed the intense storm over Australia from their vantage points in space.
University of Leicester scientists followed the progress of the storm as it headed toward and then struck the Australian coast using two instruments, MTSAT-2 and MERIS. They have provided unique views from space of a storm system that is larger than the UK.
The newly operational MTSAT-2 images from February 2, 2011, are particularly striking. The images, showing the coldest clouds as white, reveal the extent of swirling white cloud and the deep eye of the storm that is clearly visible just off the coast of Northern Australia. The MERIS image taken on February 1, shows the cloud system in greater detail (the color scale runs from white clouds to green vegetation).
David Moore from the University’s Space Research Centre in the Department of Physics and Astronomy said, “What these images reveal is the sheer scale of tropical cyclone Yasi. This particular storm system has intensified over the past several days into a system larger than the UK. Indeed, the size of the storm’s eye is itself larger than the Isle of Anglesey!”
John Remedios, Head of Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester, said, “The strength of the storm and the clarity of the eye are quite remarkable. Satellite systems allow us to monitor and improve the forecast for the areas at risk. They also really show us the immense energy of natural systems which still have a profound effect on our daily lives. In Australia, it really has been a most difficult few months with the combination of a number of intense weather events.”
The MTSAT-2 is a dual-mission satellite for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Japan Meteorological Agency, and is part of a series of geostationary satellites centered over the Pacific Ocean. The instrument became operational in July 2010 and is capable of measuring over visible and infrared wavelengths in five channels.
The MERIS instrument is flown on the European Space Agency (ESA) satellite, Envisat, launched in 2002. The MERIS instrument is able to observe vegetation greenness and ocean color, and their change over the seasons. The Envisat recently underwent a controlled orbit change to extend its lifetime to 2013.