Subject: A13) What is UTC ? How do I tell at what time a satellite picture was taken ?
Contributed by Neal Dorst (HRD)
UTC stands for Universal Time Coordinated, what used to be called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and Zulu Time (Z). This is the time at the Prime Meridian (0° Longitude) given in hours and minutes on a 24 hour clock. For example, 1350 UTC is 13 hours and 50 minutes after midnight or 1:50 PM at the Prime Meridian.
The Greenwich Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England (at 0° Longitude) was where naval chronometers (clocks) were set, a critical instrument for calculating longitude. This is why GMT became the standard for world time. Meteorologists have used UTC or GMT times for over a century to ensure that observations taken around the globe are taken simultaneously.
On most satellite pictures and radar images the time will be given. If it's not in local time then it will usually be given as UTC, GMT, or Z time.
To convert this to your local time it is necessary to subtract the appropriate number of hours for the Western Hemisphere or add the correct number of hours for the Eastern Hemisphere. And don't forget the extra hour adjustment for Daylight Savings Time or Winter Time over Standard Time for your zone.
Last updated August 13, 2004
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