Although students have heard TV weather
personalities talk about weather satellite photos, many students do not know
really what they mean. Weather is constantly changing, satellite photos record
this dynamic changing system. A satellite photo is what an area actually looks
like from space. There are many types of data that satellites can obtain. They
can chart the movement of cloud cover, heat, precipitation, and many other
parameters. Satellite photos have provided an invaluable tool to understand
how weather moves. Sometimes the data may reflect only what the satellite can
detect. For instance on cloud photos, they may only record the highest type of
A weather map is a graphical representation
of how the meteorologist may interpret the information they receive. The
weather map is a way to chart all the data points to easily see if there are
patterns emerging from the weather patterns.
- Refer back to last week's lab on how air
moves. Discuss pressure systems. High pressures refers to air that dense which
usually refers to cold air. Low pressures refers to air whose molecules are
farther apart, which usually refers to warm air. Pressure moves from high to
- Use a newspaper to show students a
weather map and compare it with the satellite photo they will be using in lab.
- If you have internet access you may want
students to visit the following sites, so students can see how much data can
be obtained from satellite images.
This site links to many other sites that have live
image feeds. You can find your local area so students can learn how to
access information. You never know when students want to know the weather
for a sporting event!
This site is the government agency responsible for
weather services. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency
provides information from satellite feeds and other types of monitoring
system throughout the world. The National Weather Service is responsible
for the weather.
- The lab sheet mainly guides students to
find answers to questions about the specific maps. Sky coverage refers
to the amount of clouds in the sky. This is an observational recording,
especially if you are looking at a satellite photo or you are on the ground
- Students may have problems trying to make a sky
coverage map, so help guide their learning. You may want to make sure
student understand what the fractions represent on the pie chart.
- Make sure that all students understand that the
lines of the states are not seen from space. They are superimposed by
- You may want students work in groups to determine
the cloud cover. Debate is good, because many of these calls are subject to