Earth from Space
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Living Planet Water & Air Structure of the Land The Human Presence Satellite Technology

Water & Air: Oceans cover nearly 70 percent of the earth’s surface and contain about 320 million cubic miles of water. Oceans control global climate by exchanging energy and gases with the atmosphere. Essential to all life on land, our atmosphere is predominately nitrogen and oxygen. This blanket of air surrounding the earth protects the surface from harmful radiation and allows animals and plants to breathe. Clouds, winds, and weather systems develop as heat and water vapor circulate within the atmosphere.

How satellites help us: Tracking the weather is one of the most important applications of remote sensing. Weather satellites in geostationary orbits provide the most well-known satellite images, familiar from their uses in television weather reports. Satellites are also used to track changes in sea surface temperature, which has important effects on global climate.

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