Satellites

Satellites are used to collect information about the surface of the Earth and the Earth’s atmosphere. Environment Canada operates a network of satellite reception stations which continually receive data that is broadcast by various weather satellites operated by other countries and organizations. The data is then processed into a variety of image products including the visible and infrared images provided on Weatheroffice.

Weather satellites circle the Earth in one of two orbit patterns:

  • Geostationary satellites, which orbit high above the Earth’s equator (35,800 km) at the same rotation speed as the Earth itself hence remaining constantly over the same location; and
  • Polar orbiting satellites which orbit about 850 km above the Earth’s surface, passing over the polar regions each time they circle the earth while passing over mid-latitude locations twice per day.

The meteorological sensors found on satellites can detect a variety of things, including: the location and movement of clouds and cloud systems; snow and ice cover; particles from fires, pollution, and sand and dust storms; ocean currents; and many other types of environmental information.

The latest animated and fixed satellite images can be found on the Canada.ca/weather website. The images, some of which are updated every 30 minutes, can be viewed on an international scale all the way down to a regional level.

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