Sources of data for weather forecast

The weather forecast on TV or on the radio is generated using a massive bank of data that is collected and collated by super-computers.

The three main sources of data that are used in weather forecasting are:

Illustration showing the different sources of data for weather forcasting

Land based weather stations and rainfall radar

The UK has a network of 30 major weather observations stations where the weather is recorded continuously to help model the changes that can occur in the atmosphere.

In addition, another 100 coastguard stations and 100 automated stations also provide weather data.

Rainfall radar is used by the Met Office to locate the amount of precipitation in the air.

This uses a type of pulse-Doppler that can show where rain is happening as live data.

Weather satellites (geostationary and polar)

Satellites have been used from the 1960s to take images from space of the weather that is happening across the world.

Geostationary satellites stay focused on one spot on the earth and move with the earth’s rotation. They usually stay over the equator at an altitude of 36,000km.

Polar-orbiting satellites will move around the earth from one pole to other at a height of 850km and will pass the same place every 12 hours.

Weather buoys (at sea)

Weather buoys are usually moored in the ocean and will send live weather and oceanic data back to weather centres for analysis.

These will help show any changes to weather in the atmosphere across a wide area.

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