A EUMETSAT satellite image shows a late summer storm swirling along the northern coast of Antarctica on March 5. Photo: Simon Proud/EUMETSAT
The stretch of ocean separating Africa, South America and Antarctica is one of the most treacherous places on the planet, with frequent storms and monstrous waves. On a recent overflight of the area, the European satellite known as Meteosat captured a massive storm at sea that took on a classic comma shape, with a trailing tail of clouds extending for hundreds – if not thousands – of kilometres from the storm centre.
The low pressure area is located at the centre of the comma-shaped swirl.
The Meteosat satellite, which European agency EUMETSAT operates, is one of the many weather satellites orbiting the planet. Others are operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, with a constant flow of fascinating imagery showing up at NASA's new worldview portal.
In its fiscal year 2015 budget request, which was released on Tuesday, the Obama administration called for full funding of the next-generation of NOAA's weather satellites currently under development. Problems in the satellite procurement process, from technical delays to mismanagement, has led the programs to run years behind schedule, with the possibility that observations of storms like this one may be less frequent in the years to come.
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