We love satellites. We look to them to catch illegal fishing, measure important things like trees and CO2 and sea ice, and stream episodes of Game of Thrones on our hand computers. Now, we’re counting on them to tell us exactly where and how rainclouds are moving around the globe.
NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission looks through the clouds using a network of criss-crossing satellites to see where rain or snow is falling at any given time on earth. The result is a beautiful swirl of data, which I encourage you to contemplate while the soothing words of an anonymous British woman wash over you: “Everything in the atmosphere is interconnected.”
She’s right! And it’s useful to know just how those connections are working to shape the world we’re in. As we prepare for a changed climate, knowing how much precipitation we’re getting — and, more importantly, where — is essential to preparing communities for disasters like flooding and drought.