The Aftermath of a Snowstorm Scanned by a Satellite 

By Attila Nagy on at

Sure, satellites can track storms and precipitation–but they can also measure snowfall on the ground.
This amazing satellite image shows snow on the ground after this weekend’s record-breaking blizzard, which hit quite a few Midwestern states. The blueprint-style image above was taken yesterday by a NASA weather satellite, the Suomi NPP, using the satellite’s VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument.

How does VIIRS actually see snow cover once it’s on the ground? It uses a snow cover algorithm that makes a good guess at snow based on specific spectral bands, as the scientists who developed it explain in a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It doesn’t do as well when there are clouds, but when it’s clear? You get beautiful images like this one.


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