Air - Sea Interaction

This animation was created by combining satellite imagery of atmospheric water vapor and sea surface temperature data. The bright milky white regions of the water vapor imagery show forecasters where there are high concentrations of water and the potential for stormy weather. As you watch the last 7-days of imagery, follow weather systems and see how their characteristics change and interact with each other. Notice how the 'tails' of mid-latitude storms stretch into the tropics to draw in moisture from the warm ocean waters. During the summer, meteorologist monitor sea surface temperatures to help forecast hurricane intensity. Sea surface temperatures warmer than 25C, (yellow and orange regions) are generally needed for the formation of hurricanes.

Further Information

Water vapor concentration
Sea surface temperature
Geostationary satellites orbiting earth at a height of approximately 36000 km measure the water vapor concentration in middle and upper parts of the troposphere (approximately 4 to 9 km above the surface of the earth). The milky white regions of the water vapor imagery indicate high concentrations of water and darker regions dry air. Dry air coming from the Sahara desert is monitored by meteorologists as it can inhibit hurricane intensification. Sea surface temperature data is measured by satellites in polar and geostationary orbits and includes observations from ships and buoys. Sea surface temperature data is useful for many professions, including climatology, meteorology and fishing industries.


This imagery has been provided by the University of Wisconsin, Hampton University and a grant from NOAA.