Winter Quarter 2006
ATMS 451
Instruments and Observations (5)W

General Information

Lectures: MWF 11.30-12.20; TTh 10.30-12.20
Instructor: Prof. Robert Wood

Office Hours: Appointments arranged in class or via e-mail
(E-mail:, Rm 713)

Tools: Lab notebook, available at UBS
Grading: Lab reports 40%, homework 10%, midterm 20%, final 30%.


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 (Dean Hegg)

Measurement of important atmospheric gases (CO, O3); measurements of atmospheric aerosol


MIDTERM, Monday Feb 12, 11:30-12:20, ATG 310c


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.



FINAL EXAM: Wednesday March 14, 2:30-4:20pm, 310c


Class materials

Link to statistical tables (Z, student-t, F distribution, Chi-squared)

Error table – classifying different types of error

Laboratory reports page


Other resources and miscellany

Week 1

Lord Kelvin quote on measurement

Puget sound map

Student, 1908: The probable error of a mean, Biometrika, 6, No 1, 1-25. PDF of full article.

Degrees of freedom explained – this is an interesting illustration of the DOF concept

Chirping crickets tell the temperature  - the resource you’ve been waiting for all your life

Measuring temperature – an article by Sander Schimmelpenninck

International Temperature Scale – includes table of standards

Week 8/9: Satellites

Powerpoint slides to accompany lectures. [Note that these and not complete and will be added to during the week]

TIROS – the first meteorological satellite (1960)

NOAA in Space - photo library

IKONOS – state of the art multichannel imager with 1 m resolution. Here you can

find their top 10 zoomable images

Week 10: Radar

Powerpoint slides to accompany lectures

Homework solutions