• Toby Irwin

Generational Satellite Improvements and Climate Change

New generations of satellites are becoming increasingly valuable as producers of high value information regarding the atmosphere and climate. In the context of wider climate change, which has brought with it more sporadic and unpredictable weather patterns, these advancements in satellite communications "make it possible to some something about the weather".

Thales Group is leading the charge for Europe's efforts to use satellites in this regard. In the short term, satellites are able to send near real-time imagery back to earth and allow earlier detection of dangerous weather; thus providing authorities with more time to prepare. In the long term, though, satellites are able to track changes to atmospheres and oceans. the provision of high-value data to scientists should help inform studies and better add weight/validity to conclusions.

These new satellite generations utilise 3D imaging. For Thales, its latest generation of 6 satellites includes 4 imaging and 2 sounding satellites which are able to "explore the internal dynamics of the atmosphere". Spokeswoman Sandrine Mathieu states:

“Think of the atmosphere as a ‘millefeuille’ French pastry with layers and layers. Up until recently, we were only able to see the top layer. Today, we can see all of the layers to analyse them for temperature, pressure, and gas concentrations such as oxygen. This allows us to detect the changes that are the origin of storms, providing much more advance warning of extreme weather which climate change appears to be generating more frequently”.

Into the future, advancements in technology may very well prove the key to helping counter the effects of climate change; or at least mitigate the impacts.



Cover Photo Courtesy of Thalesgroup.com

At the time of writing, Toby Irwin is a third year student at the University of St Andrews. He is studying International Relations. Areas that interest him the most are UK foreign policy and the defence/aerospace industry.

The student project covering international relations and foreign affairs


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