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Hurricane Matthew in IR

Hurricane Matthew in IR

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, October 7, 2016/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, environment

        Infrared Scan of Hurricane Matthew over the Bahama, October, 6, 2016  (credit: JPL-Caltech)

Infrared cameras capture the heat wavelenght signatures not visible to the human eye. IR photography can visualize the health or disease of forests and crops, an individuals body temperature, or the heat stored in clouds. The images can be eerie and stunningly beautiful as well. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on the Aqua enivironmental satellite monitored Hurricane Matthew as it passed over the Bahamas and made IR scans of the storm's rotating cloud system.

According to NASA, the color-infrared image shows the northeastern and southwestern storm quadrants had the coldest cloud tops surrounding the eye, corresponding to the regions of the storm where the strongest precipitation was occurring. Purples and blues colors indicate cloud temperatures with the most intense thunderstorm rains.

Matthew could continue its rampage of extreme wind and rain for several days. However, IR sensors and photo-maps generated by satellites like Aqua offer vastly improved early-warning systems for preparation. As climate change and a warming atomsphere continue to generate extreme storms, infrared photography will become more and more common.



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