What are those cloud images on TV?

How does cloud altitude and moisture in the upper atmosphere alter the appearance of IR imagery?

This is a water vapor image compiled from radiometers flown on several geostationary satellites. A part of the image has been extracted and appears as a square below the larger satellite image. This portion of the image contains a cloud and some clear sky areas. You can change the appearance of this extracted image by changing the cloud altitude (and its associated ambient air temperature) or the humidity of the upper troposphere (approximately 200 to 600 mb). You do this by moving the sliding scales (scroll bars) accompanying the picture on the right.

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This applet is Copyright © 2008, 2011 and 2013 by Tom Whittaker.