Cosmic meteorology, or how to learn about things that are not visible

Analysis of images from manmade earth satellites allows accurately predicting natural phenomena - hurricanes, floods, forest fires, and drought. This method is especially relevant for regions with a sparse and irregular network of ground-based weather stations. TSU teaches professionals who know how to interpret the information from meteorological satellites.

- Our students study two obligatory courses - Space Methods of Research in Meteorology and Satellite Information for Applied Purposes, - says Valentina Gorbatenko, Head of the Department of Meteorology and Climatology. – Bachelor’s students receive basic knowledge on remotely obtaining information about the atmosphere from space. Master’s students learn to interpret satellite images, for example, to recognize vortices of different sizes (cyclones, typhoons, and tornadoes), to detect layers of potentially possible icing of aircraft, and to track the spread of volcanic ash.

Many natural phenomena that are very important for forecasting cannot be recorded by ground stations. Meteorologists receive help from orbiting and geostationary satellites, which transmit data on the state of the atmosphere and the terrestrial surface of the entire planet. Images from space allow us to estimate a variety of climatic indices: the spread of cloud cover, the centres of thunderstorm activity, precipitation, the temperature of the earth's surface and the air layer adjacent to it, to track the mixing of air masses, the origin of new cyclones, and other events.

Special techniques created by TSU scientists help meteorologists to transform data received from orbiting satellites into an accurate forecast. For example, Olga Nechepurenko, a graduate student, is developing a methodology for identifying thunderstorm and hail centres over regions with a sparse network of meteorological observations. The use of satellite sounding data will make it possible to identify the timing and spatial localization of phenomena that can inflict great material damage and lead to human casualties.