ATM S 451: Instruments and Observations

Sky Imager
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Quiz Dates:

Fridays from Jan 15th through
March 11th
(unless otherwise specified)
(20 mins each)

Class Schedule and grading scheme [pdf]

Homework Assignment on Satellites and Radar [pdf]


General Information

Lectures: MWF 11.30-12.20 (ATG 310c); TTh 10.30-12.20 (ATG 310c unless otherwise posted)
Instructors: Joel Thornton and Robert Wood

Office Hours: Appointments arranged in class or via e-mail:

Rob Wood:
Room 718 ATG Bldg
Phone 543-1203

Joel Thornton:
Room 508 ATG Bldg
Phone 543-4010

Tools: Lab notebook, available at UBS
Grading: Laboratory work 75%, Weekly quizzes 25%

Learning Goals

After completing this class, you will be able to:

  1. Assess and understand the relevance of good, quantitative observational data
  2. Experience how such information is obtained, analyzed, and expressed in scientific and technical communications

Topics to be Covered in Course

Introduction/Statistics/Lab Reports/Course expectations: Why observations are important; the usefulness of practical experience; importance of error estimation; how statistics are used to estimate measurement accuracy; populations; simple error propagation and combination of errors; regression and confidence intervals; some simple statistical tests and how/when to use them; the importance of clarity and brevity in report writing; the structure of a scientific report; common mistakes

Temperature measurements and Temperature Laboratory: How is temperature measured? Direct and indirect measurements; concept of calibration; time response; ventilation; laboratory calibration of several different temperature sensors, analysis of data.

Pressure and humidity measurements and Humidity Laboratory: Barometer concepts and instruments; relative and absolute humidity measurement. Importance of calibration. Laboratory calibration and comparison of humidity sensors, analysis of data.

Wind measurement and Wind Tunnel Laboratory: Windfield measurement; vector measurement; different types of anemometer and physical principles involved. Importance of time response; distance constant; sonic anemometry; calibration and comparison of anemometers in the 3x3 wind tunnel, data logging, analysis of time series.

Weather Station Deployment: Choice of sites for deployment; setting up the Davis weather stations; downloading data; importance of instrument support.

Aerosols and Chemistry Laboratory: Measurement of important atmospheric gases (CO, O3); measurements of atmospheric aerosol

Satellite observations: Basic principles; active and passive sensor concepts; EM spectrum, recap of basic radiative transfer; bands used in remote sensing; satellite orbital concepts; orbital parameters; geosynchronous and sunsynchronous orbits; satellite sensors; basic sounding theory; microwave measurements; scatterometry.

Radar remote sensing of precipitation: Basic principles; instrumental set-up; sensitivity; wavelengths used; antenna types/sizes; radar indicators (RHI, PPI, CAPPI); approximate radar equation and what it tells us. Importance of phase (ice/liquid), particle size and shape; doppler radar; practival analysis of radar imagery.

Weather state analysis/project laboratory: Quality control of downloaded datasets; first pass analysis; some basic statistics; identifying project focus; ancillary data.


Class Materials

Link to Statistical Tables (Z, student-t, F distribution, Chi-squared)
Error table - classifying different types of error
Laboratory Reports Page

Satellite slides used in class