Clouds play an important role in our climate and their behaviour greatly affects weather systems. Knowledge about the 3D large-scale distribution as well as the structure of clouds on a smaller scale is essential for accurate weather forecasts and climate change predictions and uncertainty about cloud structure leading to errors in weather predictions provided an impetus to develop more accurate tools for studying clouds.
Unlike ground-based weather radars, which operate at longer wavelengths to detect raindrop-sized particles, the use of mm-waves allows detection of much smaller particles of liquid water and ice that make up a large proportion of cloud revealing the internal structure of clouds.
The CLOUDSAT satellite is the first millimetre wave radar in space. It is designed to study cloud density and distribution providing more accurate weather forecasting as well as predictions on climate change.
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