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STEM Impact on the Weather

Meteorologist use of various technology tools to help forecast our daily weather.

How do weather forecasters get their information? Furthermore, how can they know and trust that this information is accurate?

While it is often something that we take for granted, weather forecasting plays a major role in our current society. It determines when and where we vacation, what we are going to wear for the day, and how our plans for the weekend might change. On a larger scale, weather forecasting helps us garden and grow crops, determine where we may decide to live, and how we may properly prepare our lives (hurricanes, snowstorms, ice). And, on a deeper level, it reaffirms our trust in technology because the more accurate weather forecasting is, the more we will trust and adhere by it. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, there are six mechanisms that are used by meteorologists to forecast the weather:

1. Supercomputers use the data gathered from the other five tools to give meteorologists a guide for forecasting.

2. Radiosondes are connected to weather balloons to gather information about the upper-air system such as humidity, wind speed and direction, air pressure, and temperature.

3. The tool that weather forecasters use to give us information about storm systems is the doppler radar. While the United States enters into hurricane season, doppler radars will become more and more relied upon for the safety of the general public.

4. Satellite data is collected from three different types of satellites—polar orbing, geostationary, deep space—in space that observe Earth as a whole.

5. Automated surface observing systems—ASOS—do the same thing as satellites, just on the Earth’s surface.

6. Finally, all of the data collected from these tools goes from the supercomputers to the NOAA’s AWIPS (Advanced Weather Information Processing System) to generate the data, forecasts, and graphics that the public sees.

Why spend the time detailing all of these different tools? Well, in order to understand the advancements made in this field, we must first understand what’s already in place. One recent advancement in weather technology is the use of improved and advanced satellites. These advanced satellites make weather technology more accurate because of their fast coverage time as well as their lightning detectors.

Having these advanced systems benefits the general public because the information gathered by these advanced satellites gets transferred into information used by weather apps that many members of the general public have installed. Another recent advancement to this technology is dual polarization radar, which transmit and receive energy pulses from the Earth at a wider and farther-reaching scale so weather for a particular area is more accurate. This advancement improves already-existing data so meteorologists themselves get a better understanding of weather forecasts rather than the original public. With these two advancements, weather forecasting has greatly improved. However, there is room for growth and creativity to make this field even more interesting and accurate. 

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