In 1987, I was still at secondary school. I loved geography lessons, particularly physical geography, and specifically meteorology. I always thought that I would become a climatologist.
Then the “Storm of ’87” struck, and it changed everything for me.
I was lucky enough that my Geography teacher had won a grant to install a satellite dish on the school roof, through which we could download Meteosat and AVHRR imagery. When I say ‘download’, we couldn’t actually save anything – images were held in a local memory for a couple of hours, but if you wanted a copy of the image, you had to print it out on a 10 cm by 10 cm printer. Oh, and the images were in greyscale, displayed on a green screen. And you watched them come in … one … line … at … a … time.
But for me, it transformed the way I looked at the world. I was able to see “the Storm” out in the Atlantic, as well as collect imagery of it on its way over the UK. I could map cloud fronts, and air masses, and link it through to weather maps in the newspapers. I was able to look down on this phenomenal atmospheric disturbance, as if I was in space myself, and link the images I saw to the damage that occurred in my home town.
Earth observation (EO) and meteorology/climatology has changed immeasurably since 1987 (see this BBC article) but my passion for EO and interest in the amazing data that comes from satellites remains. And I see that so many more people have that too, driven by the deluge of high quality satellite derived data and the models and computing power that is available to work with it.
I love remote sensing and physical geography, and I love the fact that the data I analyse at Geoger can always be rooted in a real-world physical event.