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Battle of the Supercells

Manda Adams
,
University of North Carolina-Charlotte
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Summary

The students are challenged with producing the vertical profile of wind, temperature, and dew point temperature that they feel is representative of an environment conducive to producing supercell thunderstorms. Their profile is used to initialize an idealized cloud resolving model simulation. This assignment challenges students knowledge but also introduces some fun and competition.

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Context

Audience

undergraduate/graduate level course in mesoscale meteorology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have a good solid understanding of the environments in which supercell thunderstorms form. They must understand the importance of balance between CAPE and shear. They must also understand severe weather indices, and what physical characteristics those indices actually indicate.

How the activity is situated in the course

This project is done near the end of the semester. It is completed as a group activity/lab and has 3 parts to it.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The content of this exercise focuses on the supercell environment as well as severe weather indices.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The higher order thinking skills of this exercise challenge students to quantify the relationship between shear and CAPE. Students also quantify the ingredients they feel are important for severe weather from two different perspectives: 1) creating the ideal environment and 2) identifying the ideal environment.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students develop skills: working in groups, running a numerical model, giving an oral presentation, encourages creativity

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are challenged to apply their knowledge of environments conducive to supercell development to create the ideal environment for a suprcell thunderstorm. The vertical profiles of temperature, moisture, and winds produced by the students is used to initialize an idealized simulation. Students then move from predicting the ideal environment to being able to quantify how to identify the ideal environment. Students create their own severe weather index, and use their newly created indices to test each others environment. After students have a prediction for each others environment, they present their hypothesis and then get to view in 3-d the results of the idealized simulations.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I look for students being able to articulate and quantify their opinions on what makes an environment conducive to supercell development.

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