Questions about Clouds

6. How can we see global patterns of precipitation-producing clouds and storms?

Because precipitation-producing clouds are generally deep, their tops tend to be relatively high up in the atmosphere and they are therefore relatively cold. Such deep, cold-topped clouds show up particularly well on infrared satellite images. Hence, infrared satellite images are particularly useful for spotting precipitation-producing storms.

A composite, global, infrared weather-satellite image, recorded on Feb 25, 2004, at 12Z. [The "Z" stands for "Zulu", which is a code name for zero, which refers to the longitude (0°) of Greenwich, England. The standard time in Greenwich is referred to as "universal time coordinates", or UTC. On weather satellite images and weather maps, the UTC time at which the data were recorded is usually given. Pacific standard time (PST) is eight hours behind UTC, so 12Z is 4 am PST.]
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