Science Podcasts

Planet Earth episode

Tue, 1st Mar 2011

Tracking insects with a Big Dish, Australian floods

The 25 metre steerable antenna at the Chilbolton Observatory. (c) Drichards2

This week in the Planet Earth Podcast - how tracking insects can help scientists forecast summer storms and floods, and the role one of Europe's key satellite missions played in the recent floods in Queensland, Australia.  The huge Chilbolton Facility for Atmospheric and Radio Research was originally designed to be used by astronomers.  But now the Big Dish – as it's affectionately known among its users – is much more likely to be used by weather scientists.  Sue Nelson meets some of the scientists behind this research to find out more.  Later, we find out how one of Europe's most sophisticated scientific satellites– SMOS, or the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission – is getting on. The satellite recently took centre stage during the floods in Queensland, Australia, when it helped show the full extent of saturated soil in the region.  But it doesn't just measure soil moisture levels; by measuring how salty the world's oceans are, SMOS also helps reveal ocean circulation patterns, letting scientists make more accurate weather forecasts.

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