Understanding Doppler radar radial velocity fields
Content: Students will be able to interpret Doppler velocity radar maps.
Spatial skills category: This activity engages students in perspective taking.
Context for Use
This activity is used as a formative assessment in an introductory-level severe weather class for non-majors during a lecture about interpreting Doppler radar radial velocity data. Displaying the results after administering the question provides students and instructor immediate feedback about what students have understood.
Description and Teaching Materials
To do this, introduce the first image on this NWS page illustrates* the radial component of the wind and how it translates on Doppler velocity images https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/vel
*Note: This image is not accessible for students with color-blindness
To demonstrate how a radar antenna is rotated to collect data, share this NSF video of the Doppler on Wheels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsDcQryQm3Q
After preparing students, engage them in the scaffolded questions described below and presented in the slides. Note: One of the slides uses a radar antenna icon with the radar antenna facing right. Point out to students that the radar is constantly rotating and that the direction for an icon is not relevant to the question.
PowerPoint slides for GeoClick Radial Velocity (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 3MB Oct27 21)
PDF slides for GeoClick Radial Velocity (Acrobat (PDF) 7.9MB Oct27 21)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Scaffolding: The GeoClick question (last slide) asks students to work backwards, which is difficult! In order to prepare students, it is helpful to go through the constant-wind and rotation-with-radar-location-given examples.
The PowerPoint/PDF slides below contain a set of multiple-choice clicker questions. The multiple-choice questions are intended to help orient students to looking at Doppler velocity images (you might want to find and present some real-world Doppler velocity images as well).
References and Resources
General introduction to radial velocity: https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/vel
Persistent link to the above site: https://web.archive.org/web/20210707213711/https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/vel
NSF YouTube video of the Doppler on Wheels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsDcQryQm3Q
LaDue, N.D. and Shipley, T.F. (2018). Click-on-Diagram Questions: A New Tool to Study Conceptions using Classroom Response Systems. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 27(6), 492-507.