This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Aug 17, 2010
Enhanced IR imagery of cloud top temperatures, heights, cloud types and organizational patterns
Dorothea Ivanova, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
SummaryThe object of this activity is to find enhanced IR imagery, to interpret cloud top temperatures and heights and to identify cloud types and organizational patterns.
Type and level of course
Undergraduate required course in applied meteorology: WX365 - Satellite and Radar remote sensing and weather interpretation.
Geoscience background assumed in this assignment
This course integrates concepts presented in other meteorology courses in the curriculum
GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment
Software required for this assignment/activity:
Time required for students to complete the assignment:
45 minutes - to 1 hour
GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
During this activity the students will:
- Recognize, distinguish, and explain the uses of different types of satellite imagery including visible, infrared, and water vapor channels.
- Identify cloud types and relative cloud heights from satellite imagery.
Other content/concepts goals for this activity
Emphasis is on interpreting satellite images.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Synthesis of ideas and skills, critical thinking and evaluation, analysis of satellite and sounding data and images.
Description of the activity/assignmentActivity 1
The object of this activity is to find enhanced IR imagery, to interpret cloud top temperatures and heights and to identify cloud types and organizational patterns.
1. Find an IR image that includes a temperature scale (either black and white or color). Here are sites that include a temperature scale on the image:
2. Print out a copy of your image.
3. Find three cloudy locations (low, middle, and high clouds) on the image (in the general vicinity of a radiosonde station), mark the locations, and estimate the cloud top temperature at that location by matching the gray shade or color to the temperature scale. Be very specific when marking the locations selected. Sometimes the temperature is given in Kelvin and sometimes in Celsius. Write your estimated cloud top temperatures on the image.
4. Download the nearest soundings you can find for each location from one of the following sites:
Use either a skew T/log p diagram or a Stuve diagram. Print out the soundings. Ensure that the soundings you download include the observed pressure level heights.
5. Using the soundings in combination with your estimated cloud top temperature, estimate the pressure level and height (meters) of the cloud tops. In the case of thunderstorm tops, correlate the satellite temperatures with the parcel curve on the sounding. Don't just use the standard pressure level heights, but use the observed pressure level heights plotted on the sounding. Interpolate as necessary.
Cloud types and organizational patterns:
For this activity, use the imagery in the Activity1.pptx file:
6. Identify the cloud type and organizational pattern of the clouds at letter A on slides 1 & 2. Also state whether the cloud tops are high, middle or low cloud.
7. Identify the small white feature at letter B on slides 1 & 2.
8. Identify the cloud type and organizational pattern of the clouds at letter C on slides 3 & 4. Also state whether the cloud tops are high, middle or low cloud.
9. Identify the feature at letter D on slides 3 & 4.
Determining whether students have met the goals
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
URLs and References
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment: Activity 1 for WX365 meteorology course (Microsoft Word 27kB Aug8 10)
- Instructors Notes:
- Solution Set:
- Activity 1 Supporting satellite images (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 457kB Aug8 10)