Satellite image of the month

On this page we showcase some of the Met Office's satellite imagery from around the world showing weather in action, new views of the world and extra commentary on how we collect and create the images from our Satellite Applications team.

August 2016

Aerial view of cumulus clouds over France and southern England

Patchy cumulus clouds over France and southern England Patchy cumulus clouds over France and southern England

As cool air comes south-eastwards over the English Channel and into the north coast of France it is heated by the landmass and starts to form small cumulus clouds (initially giving the 'polka-dotting' appearance).  
In this satellite image the cloud cover matches the shape of the coastline with the organisation of the flow into the visible 'streets' likely aided through convergence caused by the local directional changes of the coastline.
The clouds are initially triggered by bubbles of warmer air rising, probably from small hills near the coast. The clouds then tend to become organised into lines along the airflow and as the cumulus clouds move further inland they become deeper and form into the larger more 'blobby'-looking 'open cells'.  
What we see on this satellite picture is a reason why in relatively cool airmasses in spring and summer, coasts exposed to the breeze can enjoy the most sunshine.
This  'true colour' image comes from MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) onboard the NASA Terra polar-orbiting satellite a research satellite that is just over 700 km above the surface of the Earth.
The image is from 11:11 GMT on 09 August 2016 and the data was collected directly from the satellite here at the Met Office using our satellite receiving station.

July 2016

Phytoplankton blooms in the North Sea

Phytoplankton blooms in the North Sea Phytoplankton blooms in the North Sea

This image shows large blooms of microscopic phytoplankton in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland and north-east England. These blooms occur every year in June/July as light levels increase due to the longer days.

This image comes from the NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP satellite which is a polar orbiting satellite which collects data while circling the Earth passing over the north and south poles.

One of the images we can create from this data is a true colour image so we can see the land, sea and clouds from space as they would appear to the human eye.

Find out more: Stunning North Sea phytoplankton bloom

June 2016

Haboob dust storm over the Sahara - June 2016 Haboob dust storm over the Sahara - June 2016
In this image we can see a series of massive haboobs, or dust storms, over the Sahara caused by the outflow of air from a series of large thunderstorms. In large storms this outflow of air can cause very strong winds at the surface which can lift dust into the atmosphere. The dust is spreading radially from the storms. We can see clouds forming at the leading edge of the dust, and atmospheric gravity waves, appearing as ripples within the dust.

This image is created to enable the easy identification of dust that has been lifted into the atmosphere. This is achieved by differencing and combining satellite measurements from different infra-red wavelengths. This picks out the lifted dust as pink or purple colours that are brighter than the background. Thick ice clouds, such as the tops of very large thunderstorms, show up in red and orange colours.

This dust imagery is created at the Met Office using infra-red measurements from the SEVIRI instrument onboard the European geostationary satellite, Meteosat-10, operated by EUMETSAT. This satellite sits nearly 36,000 km above the Earth and provides imagery of the full Earth disc every 15 minutes.

May 2016

Flooding in Bangladesh - 26 May 2016

Satellite image of severe flooding in Bangladesh after Cyclone Roanu Satellite image of severe flooding in Bangladesh after Cyclone Roanu

This satellite image shows the severe widespread flooding in Bangladesh after Cyclone Roanu, the first tropical cyclone of the season. It caused at least 127 deaths in Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh and brought torrential rain and severe flooding to these regions and parts of India and Myanmar.

This false colour image comes from the EUMETSAT-operated MetOp-B satellite, a polar-orbiting satellite which orbits the earth every 101 minutes at an altitude of around 800 km at a resolution of 1km. It was captured at 03:22 GMT on 26th May 2016.

Clear skies over the UK - 5th May 2016

Clear skies over the UK Clear skies over the UK

This image shows the UK enjoying clear, sunny skies and what was the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures reaching 21.5 °C in Northolt.

Image from 12:57 UTC on 5th May 2016 from the MODIS instrument onboard NASA's Aqua satellite. Aqua is a polar orbiting satellite operating at around 700km above the Earth giving us 500m resolution true colour satellite imagery.

April 2016

Tropical Cyclone Fantana - 14th April 2016

Tropical Cyclone Fantala Tropical Cyclone Fantala

A high-resolution visible view of the very intense Tropical Cyclone Fantana over the Indian Ocean from Meteosat-10, a European geostationary satellite operated by EUMETSAT at nearly 36,000 km altitude.

Captured at 0600 GMT on 14/04/2016 because of the viewing angle of the satellite it is possible to see some of the vertical structure of the storm clouds in the spiral arms of the cyclone as well as the eye of the storm. At this point the Tropical Cyclone is still intensifying and has sustained wind speeds of 120 mph.  By 1000 GMT on 18/04/2016 to the North of Madagascar the cyclone neared peak intensity with gusts of up to 220 mph and maximum sustained wind-speeds of 175 mph.

March 2016

Total eclipse over Indonesia - 8 March 2016

The total eclipse shows as the shadow of the moon cast on the earth.

The imagery uses false-colour visible images. These look similar to how it would appear to the human eye, except the ice clouds show up as a cyan colour.

The satellite is the newest and most advanced geostationary weather satellite, Himawari-8, launched in October 2014 to an altitude of just under 36,000 km.

February 2016

Northern lights across the north of the UK - 3rd February 2016

Northern lights visible in February 2016 Northern lights visible in February 2016

This low  light level image is from the VIIRS instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP satellite (polar-orbiter) taken at 01:51 GMT this morning. It shows the Aurora to the North of the Faeroe Islands and over Scandinavia. Oil rig flares can be seen in the North Sea. City and road lights show up in populated areas.

January 2016

Widespread snow after blizzard in the USA - 24th January 2016

USA Snow Blizzard of January 2016 USA Snow Blizzard of January 2016

The extensive snowfall over the eastern USA on 24 January 2016 captured during a relatively clear spell following the snowstorm.

The image on the right was created from 5 near-infrared channels of the VIIRS instrument on board the Suomi-NPP polar orbiting satellite, operated by NOAA.  By showing the snow as an orange colour it is possible to distinguish from the white cloud in the image (as seen in the left-hand image). This was created at the Met Office using NASA/NOAA data and an algorithm originally designed at Meteo-France.

Last updated: 10 August 2016

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