This homework assignment is given in the first two weeks of class. Students receive one or two lectures that cover the topics of atmospheric layers, temperature and pressure profiles, concepts of atmospheric mass and pressure and measuring (i.e. dropsonde) instrumentation. At the beginning of each lecture I briefly show them the tropical update from the NOAA National Hurricane Center web site; if there is an active storm, I show where I go to get more info, such as the projected storm track and storm history (for example, from Intellicast Hurricane Tracking). Then, for this assignment, I reintroduce them to these hurricane information web sites and demonstrate how to find the historical data on tropical storms (such as from the Unisys Hurricane Data Archive), and how to copy and paste text data into word and/or excel, as a tab- or space-delimited file. I point out some problem areas with this data-grabbing method, such as headers that get lost from their associated data column or date information that may not format as dates. I then hand out the assignment, which asks them to: Find data on a current or recent (this year) tropical system, provide the name and year of the storm and the reference web site, and plot the wind speed and pressure variables against time. Students should label the axes and give a descriptive title to the chart. Describe what they notice in the graphed data and if it seems believable (this allows students to decide if they have done the task correctly by using their understanding of the data). Predict what will happen if the storm a) intensifies or b) weakens. I then provide another data set (of any long-duration tropical storm that formed, weakened and later re-intensified) and ask them to go through the same process of plotting and interpretation. I tell them that some future climate predictions are for more storms with lower central pressures and ask which of the two charts best represents that future scenario, and why.


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Vocational/Professional Development Education,Forecasting,Education,NSDL,Teaching with Data,Climate Change,Energy,Air masses and fronts,Air pressure,Undergraduate (Lower Division),Atmospheric Science,Extreme weather,Clouds and precipitation,NSDL_SetSpec_380601,Hurricanes,Winds,Physical,Physics,Geoscience,Higher Education,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20100502195946965T



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