Web-Based Tools for Meteorology Education
Weather analysis and forecasting require both critical thinking and three-dimensional spatial analysis skills to apply complex theory to the diagnosis of atmospheric processes from multiple environmental variables in a variety of formats. Existing websites used by meteorology students to visualize atmospheric fields are not designed to facilitate synthesis of weather information because they offer a limited menu of “standard” meteorological displays without pedagogical intent or clear reference to theoretical underpinnings. Thus, there exists a significant opportunity to enhance online weather visualization tools in the context of meteorology education. This project will create a website for display of meteorological quantities that is optimized for undergraduate instruction. This will be accomplished by developing a variety of interactive graphical products that illustrate various theoretical paradigms of the atmosphere commonly taught in undergraduate meteorology programs, enhancing both interpretation and synthesis of the information available to the student. This graphical content will be supplemented with online tutorials that interactively train students in the understanding, application, and synthesis of meteorology theory in a range of diverse meteorological contexts. This will give students around the world the opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice in an appealing, interactive self-paced instructional format. These pedagogical tools will be formally implemented into several meteorology classes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Prescott, Arizona, and tested at other institutions with undergraduate meteorology programs.
This project has the potential to transform the pedagogy of meteorology education. Upper-division theory classes like dynamical meteorology (which applies to atmospheric motions) and thermodynamics (energy transfer) are usually taught from a purely mathematical standpoint, with limited application to real-time atmospheric phenomena. The graphical display system created in this project will allow students to visualize contributions of the individual terms in dynamical meteorology or thermodynamics equations and overlay them to see their relative impact on the current meteorological context. This educational approach to the visualization of real-time data will make scientific theory more relevant, meaningful and enjoyable to undergraduate students by combining concrete experience (graphics manipulation) and abstract conceptualization (theory and equations), thus accommodating a diversity of learning styles. In addition, this project will focus on a fundamental principle of STEM education: self-monitoring. It will enable students to utilize and assess a range of weather analysis methodologies, which will require questioning, experimentation and validation of the various methods and tools.
This project has the potential to have far-reaching impacts on meteorology education nationwide. The new meteorology visualization and teaching tools resulting from this project will be freely available online for learning and research, with potential for adaptation to other disciplines that visually synthesize geospatial information. The evaluation and dissemination plans include soliciting feedback from students and instructors at other institutions regarding the implementation of the graphical overlays. This will result in a process of continuous improvement based on input from throughout the community, enhancing collaboration between instructors within the STEM community and providing a resource for both instructors and students around the world. Finally, the project will promote self-paced student-centered inquiry and learning in the geosciences while allowing instructors to evaluate how well students synthesize and apply theory to practical tasks in atmospheric science, enhancing student learning and outcomes in meteorology and increasing the pool of meteorology graduates with skills that are valued by the wider industry.
Professor James developed a widely accepted software algorithm that corrects velocity aliasing errors in operational Doppler radar data.