GOES track shown in ImageJ. The red line shows the measurement of the hurricane track over a 7-day period.
Students will learn how to transform a series of GOES images into an animation, and how to create a storm track from that animation. By synthesizing information from the track and other sources, students will be able to determine storm speed and direction.
This chapter is appropriate for grades 7-12.
After completing this chapter, students will be able to:
- describe the positioning and motion of GOES satellites;
- navigate to a GOES website and interpret the three primary types of GOES images (visible; water vapor; infrared);
- explore and animate web-based GOES images;
- animate a set of GOES images using the ImageJ software; and
- using the tools of ImageJ, calculate the speed and direction of clouds and storms in an animated set of GOES images.
This chapter provides a supplement to the study of weather systems. As students learn about the various types of clouds associated with different weather systems, they can apply their new knowledge by identifying and tracking those systems on the GOES website. Retrieving the images from the GOES website and developing slow-motion animations of cloud movement can be a real motivator for students. You can also use this chapter as a supplement to the study of the Earth system.
When meteorologists announce that a storm system is possibly approaching your region, there is typically a lot of interest. School-aged youth are often excited about the possibility of a school closing, or they may just have an interest in experiencing the power of the storm. You can tap into that interest by having your students download GOES images, track the movement of the storm themselves, and make predictions about when and where it will pass. The images provide an opportunity for applying or extending their knowledge of weather in real time.
If you can't interrupt your teaching schedule because of approaching weather, you can still download the GOES images yourself and use them with your students when you have the time. GOES images are stored in an accessible archive for 21 days. Once you have them, you can use them to reconstruct the development and movement of that storm whenever it is convenient.
You can supplement GOES images with information from the website of the National Weather Service. Here you'll find a variety of representation of current weather conditions, including maps of weather fronts, temperature, wind speed, precipitation, and more.
The following National Science Education Standards are supported by this chapter:
- Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. The use of tools and techniques, including mathematics, will be guided by the question asked and the investigations students design. The use of computers for the collection, summary, and display of evidence is part of this standard. Students should be able to access, gather, store, retrieve, and organize data, using hardware and software designed for these purposes.
- Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. With practice, students should become competent at communicating experimental methods, following instructions, describing observations, summarizing the results of other groups, and telling other students about investigations and explanations.
- Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. A variety of technologies, such as hand tools, measuring instruments, and calculators, should be an integral component of scientific investigations. The use of computers for the collection, analysis, and display of data is also a part of this standard. Mathematics plays an essential role in all aspects of an inquiry. For example, measurement is used for posing questions, formulas are used for developing explanations, and charts and graphs are used for communicating results.
- Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data. New techniques and tools provide new evidence to guide inquiry and new methods to gather data, thereby contributing to the advance of science. The accuracy and precision of the data, and therefore the quality of the exploration, depends on the technology used.
- Interactions among the solid earth, the oceans, the atmosphere, and organisms have resulted in the ongoing evolution of the earth system. We can observe some changes such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on a human time scale, but many processes such as mountain building and plate movements take place over hundreds of millions of years.
- NOAA monitors current hurricane activity and provides further background information at the National Hurricane Center.
- The National Weather service offers this background information on Tropical Cyclones.
- NOAA maintains a rich collection of educator resources on hurricanes at the NOAA Climate Program Office: Hurricane Education.
- NOAA provides visualizations on You Tube. This link takes you to one of Hurricane Irene swirling along the Eastern seaboard, August 21-27, 2011.
- NASA Earth Observatory Image of the day and references: Hurricane Irene Nears Landfall
- The GOES interactive images are available from this link: Interactive Global Geostationary Weather Satellite Images
- The images used in Part 4 are from the GOES image archive Geostationary Satellite Server. These images are available for a 21-day period.