Comparing Rain-Gauge Data with Radar-Derived Precipitation Estimates
Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications
Student teams collect rain-gauge data and compared it with radar-derived (NEXRAD) precipitation estimates. They use GIS to look for discrepancies between the two datasets and explain them by looking for sources of error in the method. The project culminates in a presentation by the students. The project has since expanded to include units dealing with local hydrology.
- Need to ground-truth remote observations
- Challenges of obtaining accurate field data
- Local variation in precipitation (esp. in mountainous terrain)
- quantitative skills
- using GIS
- field observations
Context for Use
This is a semester-long project, based on multiple observations.
A detailed lesson plan for Comparisons of NEXRAD radar and precipitation gauge values (more info) is provided by the authors.
This project cost the authors $500 to cover:
- Rain gauges and posts to mount them on
- NEXRAD data, which (in the U.S.) can be ordered through
- Field data travel expenses
The institution presumably had other funding for the GIS lab and software.
Teaching Notes and Tips
This activity will require a great deal of training for the students, and will require a lot of time and attention on the instructor's part, so may not be suitable for a large class, especially if there are no teaching assistants available.
This project was first run with only four students, so they could be closely supervised by the graduate student on whose project they were working. A presentation similar to those given at professional conferences was deemed appropriate.
References and Resources
Clouds and precipitation, Geoscience:Hydrology:
Surface Water, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Meteorology:
Resource TypeActivities:Field Activity:
Importation of field observations into the classroom,
Research experiences for students, Activities:
Field Activity, Field Activity:
Field-Based Teaching and Learning, Remote Sensing, GIS
Grade LevelCollege Lower (13-14):
Ready for UseReady to Use:Meets Peer Review Standard:
Anonymous Peer Review, Ready to Use
Earth System Topics
Surface Water, Atmosphere:
ThemeTeach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:
Teaching in the Field, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:
Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:
Water, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:
Atmospheric Science, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:
Weather, Teach the Earth:Course Topics: