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An Introductory Meteorology Lab Exercise:
Interpreting
Weather-Satellite Images

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This exercise is designed for use in introductory meteorology courses for non-science majors.

The exercise comprises three parts:

Part I: Introduction
Summarizes some basic information about satellite images that students must know before attempting this exercise. However, this information is not enough; the references cited below (for example) provide additional necessary background.

Part II: Background Questions
Asks students a series of questions to test their grasp of basic concepts needed to interpret visible and infrared satellite images. Answers to these questions are provided.

Part III: Image Interpretation Exercise
Asks students to apply their knowledge to interpret what they see in a variety of satellite images, including a series recorded one day in February on the West Coast of the U.S.

To begin the lab exercise immediately, click on the "START" button. For further information, read on.

In this exercise, students apply basic concepts about solar and terrestrial radiation, plus common-sense knowledge about basic physical properties of clouds and of land and ocean surfaces, to interpret visible and infrared satellite images. It assumes that students have already been introduced generally to weather satellites and weather satellite images, and in more detail to basic concepts about solar and terrestrial radiation and the basic laws of radiation. Almost any typical introductory, college-level textbook on meteorology could provide the necessary background. Some examples with which I'm familiar include:

In Metr 100: "Introduction to Meteorology", the General Education lecture course taught at San Francisco State University for which this exercise was originally designed, students are expected to do assigned background reading and are also provided with two handouts providing background information to prepare them to do the satellite interpretation lab:

Please note that when you start the lab exercise, a new browser window will open without the familiar browser menu bars. You can always return to this page by selecting the "Exit" button.

If you wish, you may now start the exercise by clicking on the "START" button: .

Address questions and comments to: dempsey@sfsu.edu

(Dr. Dave Dempsey, Professor of Meteorology
Dept. of Geosciences
San Francisco State University)