Assessment and Next Steps

This is a sample lesson page from the course METEO 101 which is part of the online Certificate of Achievement in Weather Forecasting offered by the Penn State Department of Meteorology. Any questions about this program can be directed to: David Babb

assessment iconAssessment...

Below are some sample questions for you to judge your understanding of the material presented in Lesson 3.  Record your answers and then check them by clicking on the "ANSWERS..." link at the bottom of this section.

  1. Consider the visible satellite image below from 1945Z on March 20, 2014.

    visible satellite image

    Now answer the following questions:

    • Focus your attention on the clouds that are in southwestern South Dakota.  Do these clouds have a high or low albedo?
    • Use your determination of albedo along with the physical appearance of these clouds to identify them.
    • Now identify the small, distinct cloud elements that are located in eastern Montana and western North Dakota?  Why do these clouds have a higher albedo that those in southwestern South Dakota?
    • Identify the linear feature that runs from central Nebraska to east central South Dakota.  You may wind to look at a satellite loop to aid in your analysis.
    • BONUS: What are the uniform white features located in north-central Minnesota?


  2. Now examine the infrared satellite image that corresponds to the visible image above.

    infrared satellite image

    Based on the image above, answer the following questions:

    • Explain the difference between what this image is actually displaying and how meteorologists interpret what they see.  What is the key assumption that allows for this interpretation?
    • Reexamine the clouds in southwestern South Dakota.  Are these low or high clouds?  Explain using specific information from the image.
    • Give a temperature representative of the highest clouds on this image.
    • Examine the loop of satellite images for the three hours previous to this one.  Focus your attention to the orange shaded region in southeastern Nebraska?  What change do you observe?  Why does this change take place?
    • BONUS: Note the patch of clouds shaded dark blue located on the Wyoming/Nebraska.  If we assume a surface temperature of 20 C and a decrease in temperature with height of 6 degrees C per kilometer, estimate the cloud-top heights of these clouds.



next steps iconNext Steps...

There are many different types of remote-sensing data used to study the atmosphere.  In this lesson we've looked at two types of satellite data.  Other key types of data are a third type of satellite data called "water vapor imagery" and radar data, which is a ground-based remote sensor.  As does visible and infrared imagery, these additional two types of remote sensors "see" completely different parts of the atmosphere, and with each different view we can gain an even better understanding of the processes that are occuring.

Now that you've reached the end of the Meteo 101 sample material, we hope that you have learned some practical weather analysis skills that you can put to good use.  As you might imagine, analyzing the current weather is only the very tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  When it comes to learning about the weather there are many other areas that you will want to explore.  If you are interested in continuing your education with us in the Department of Meteorology at Penn State, click on the "Join Us!" menu tab at the top of the page for options that you can pursue.