Department of Atmospheric Sciences | University of Illinois
Atmospheric Sciences | RESEARCH

Satellite and Radar Remote Sensing

The atmosphere changes its face constantly as air moves around the globe—clouds form and evaporate, and the sun's energy is redistributed across the Earth as it rotates. The atmosphere is vast, and unfortunately impossible to directly observe in all but a few locations at discreet times.  To understand the atmosphere in all its complexity, we need measurements through its depth, at many times and over its entire expanse. We cannot hope to make these measurements directly—the only way we can achieve this lofty challenge is through remote sensing. Satellite and radar remote sensing of the atmosphere have become the most important techniques for observation of the global and local atmosphere. Satellites also provide opportunities to observe the entire surface of the Earth. This allows the changing patterns of vegetation growth, snow cover, and land use to be measured at frequent time intervals. It is essential that students today have a deep understanding of these powerful techniques of observation.

Students in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences employ a wide array of remote sensing technologies to study an enormous range of phenomena.  Students are using state-of-the-art dual-polarization Doppler radars in research ranging from the study of Alpine cloud systems to the organization of the tropical boundary layer.  They have used Doppler radars in studies of summertime mesoscale thunderstorm complexes and in data assimilation into numerical forecast models.  Students in the Department do research with a wide array of satellite remote sensors, including instrumentation such as the spaceborne precipitation radar on NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), and multi-spectral imaging radiometers such as MODIS, MISR, and ASTER on the NASA’s Terra satellite.  Our Department is at the forefront of remote sensing technology with strong research connections to NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Opportunities to work with NASA’s advanced satellite instrumentation are available when you work with DAS faculty. Will yoube part of this exciting work?

Want to learn more? See these faculty websites:

Larry Di Girolamo Dave Kristovich Greg McFarquhar
Steve Nesbitt Bob Rauber