Classroom Educational Objectives

Classroom instruction enhancement for ATMS 410, ATMS 314, and ATM 306

ATMS 410 is a comprehensive radar meteorology course  that  covers  the  basic  principles  of conventional, Doppler, and polarization radar. In addition, the class covers precipitation measurement and microphysical interpretation of radar data, Doppler processing techniques such as VAD analysis, dual-Doppler analysis, and wind profiling for a variety of ground-based, airborne, and spaceborne platforms. One fundamental problem is that the class lacks direct access to a radar facility where students can see the components, learn how they work together, and operate themselves to test various sampling strategies. Access to the DOW allowed for students to see the impacts, in real time, of the various "trade-offs" that Professor Hence discussed repeatedly in class. This included visualizing the Doppler Dilemma through visualizing  the  relationship  between  the  maximum  unambiguous  range,  the  Nyquist velocity, and the PRF, watching how high winds aloft led to velocity folding , brightband identification, reflectivity in ice vs. rain, etc. The students are working with and learning Solo3 to interact with the data. Students in ATMS 314 and 306 also had the opportunity to apply these principles to the topics specific to their courses


The primary tool for assessment for the students in ATMS 410 is a final project, see below, where they are asked to perform several types of analysis of the individual cases collected by the DOW. The students are asked to examine both clear air and precipitation cases, and are required to provide information on the situational awareness of the case (location, conditions, etc), discussion of the meteorology involved, and perform the requested analysis. The students will be expected to present their results to the class at the end of the quarter in a short presentation.

Field deployment experience

Especially for students still too junior to have yet participated in field activities, several students reported being excited to witness the weather they had been studying in class in action. Graduate students with field experience from PECAN (Choate, who is also TA for ATMS 410, and Stechman) were given the opportunity to pass their knowledge gained from extensive experience with the DOW to these younger students. Through this experience, the students also got a taste for some of the hard realities of field research: some were frustrated by deploying on clear weather days; many were surprised by the challenges of attempting to collect data in tough conditions, despite efforts to inform them on what to expect (One student said "This is why I study warm weather convection!" on the day of the blizzard). Most, however, seemed thrilled to be receiving hands-on experience.

Data collection for undergraduate capstone research

We were highly fortunate to collect data in a wide variety of spring weather phenomena, which will provide an ample dataset for student analysis. Seniors are strongly encouraged to take a capstone research experience (ATMS 492), for which they receive 4 credit hours. We intend to use the DOW data to provide recent observational cases for the students to study.

ATMS 410: Radar Remote Sensing

During our class, the DOW collected data on both days with precipitation and without. Using Solo3, Google Earth, and whatever else you find useful, you will use both clear air and precipitation scans of the DOW to identify key features of your particular cases. Place all images that I request that you either obtain or create in your report with the indicated annotations. Make sure that you show your work so that I can understand your process. Report all units in SI.

Your assignment:

  1. Clear Air Case
    Examine your clear air case in Solo3.
    1. Write a brief summary of the details of your case. This should include the location of the radar (give the latitude/longitude as well as location information, such as "2 km north of the intersection of Neil St and Shale Road"), the time of data collection, and any notable features within the vicinity of the radar (the pictures of the site, which are in your case folder, and Google Earth may be useful in determining this).
    2. Plot the radar data in solo3 during a time you have a 360 degree PPI sweep. Make a screen shot of a representative PPI sweep, at the lowest  elevation angle, of the reflectivity and radial velocity. In each image, include range rings every 2 km.
    3. Using arrows and figure annotations, indicate 5 significant and distinct regions of ground clutter in the images on both the reflectivity and velocity images.
    4. Obtain and include a Google Earth image that is centered on the location of the truck at the time of your case. Label the location of the truck within the image.
    5. Using your favorite image editing software (Illustrator, Powerpoint, etc), overlay a copy of the reflectivity image (with transparency) onto the Google Earth map and align the features. Remember that the solo3 images and azimuths are truck relative! One recommended way to align the image is to use the distance measuring tool in Google Earth along with the range rings from the radar to align the distances. (I was able to use PowerPoint to do this overlay successfully)
      • On the overlaid image, identify your five significant regions of ground clutter.
      • Capture and include close-up Google Earth satellite images of the 5 sources of ground clutter and include a physical description of each source.
    6. Using your ground clutter map, determine the heading of the truck relative to true north. Make sure to show your work as to how you determined this. Indicate this heading on your map overlay. And then, check your value against the compass heading given in the log.
  2. Precipitation Case
    Examine your precipitation case in Solo3.
    1. Write a summary of what happened during the event. This should include: what your precipitation event was (in terms of type of precipitation); the precipitation's general movement relative to meteorological coordinates; any significant changes that occur to the precipitation over the timeframe of your case; what, if anything, the event was associated with (such as a frontal passage); and any other information that can help me understand the event you are analyzing. Also include the location of the radar, the time of data collection, and any notable features within the vicinity of the radar.
    2. RHI Analysis:
      1. Select an RHI that has precipitation within its field of view at least up to 10-15 km away from the radar. Using the truck heading from the compass heading in the log is fine), convert the truck-relative azimuth of the RHI to an azimuth angle relative to true north. Indicate the truck location, heading, and azimuth angle of the RHI on a Google Earth map.
      2. In solo3, plot range rings on this RHI at least every 1 km. Use this RHI to estimate the cloud top height at this time.
      3. Using the radial velocities at 10 km and your favorite programming language (Matlab, Python, etc), plot a vertical profile of the radial velocities from the surface up to the cloud top. Make sure to label your graph appropriately in terms of heights, magnitudes, and units.
      4. Obtain the Lincoln sounding closest in time to your case:
        1. Go to
        2. Put in your date and the time closest to your case from the dropdown menu.
        3. Select "Text:List" under "Type of Plot"
        4. Click on ILK on the map. Another window should pop up with a text version of the radiosonde data.
      5. Using the wind direction and speed from the sounding (caution: the wind speeds are in knots!), as well as your radial velocity profile and the true north azimuth of your RHI, calculate the amount that the wind velocities from the Lincoln sounding project into the measured radial velocity for every level of the sounding up to the cloud top. Show your technique for this calculation. Report this amount in meters per second.
    3. PPI Velocity Analysis:
      1. Draw rings at 5 km intervals from radar on a representative PPI sweep of radial velocity. Using the maxima -> minima technique  discussed in class, estimate the wind speed and direction at each 5 km interval. Show your work on the image. Tip: Use a high enough elevation angle that you have a full precipitation field around the radar with minimal blockage. If you cannot get both a maxima and a minima in the velocity because the precipitation field is not full enough, estimate. Using the data widget in solo3, also report the height of the beam at each distance interval.
      2. Using this analysis, describe the winds of your case. Are they changing direction or speed at a given elevation? Are there any discontinuities in the wind field? Are the winds significantly changing speed or direction with height?
    4. Brightband Analysis:
      1. Indicate during what times you have evidence of brightbanding in your case
        • Make representative images during a time you have a brightband of your reflectivity, rhohv, and zdr PPI sweeps. indicate on your images the location of the brightband. Provide the altitude of the top of the brightband. By analyzing your PPI scans, indicate how far the particles fell before they fully melted. Tip: When you plot the rhohv, try setting the color scale to plot from 0.8-1.0. For the ZDR, set the scale from -2.0 to 2.0. This will help you actually see the data! It will also likely be helpful to use higher elevation scans.

Oral Presentation:
Using your favorite presentation software (Powerpoint, keynote, Illustrator, etc.), create an oral presentation summarizing the highlights of the results of each portion of your analysis. You and your partner will have a total of 5 minutes; this timing will be strictly enforced. Each partner must present for equal amounts of time. We will allow two minutes for questions. Email your presentation by 8 am CDT on the due date (May 2nd, 2016). We will run the presentations from my laptop to facilitate transitions.