Shop Windows to the Universe

Become a nitrogen atom in the nitrogen cycle in our Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit/Game. See all our games, activity kits and classroom activities.

    Image courtesy of Jake Crouch.

From: Jake Crouch
Southeast Pacific Ocean, November 12, 2008

Doppler radar

I am monitoring the C-Band Doppler radar aboard the Ron Brown. It is the most prominent observing system on the ship. The radar measures the intensity of falling rain drops from the stratocumulus clouds. Only rain drops (>1 mm in diameter) can be seen by our radar, and we will rely on other instruments to see cloud droplets and even smaller particles in the atmosphere.

The radar works by sending out a pulse of energy, which bounces off rain drops and returns back to the radar. Depending on how strong the returned signal is and how long it takes to return to the radar, we can determine how intense the rain is and where it is falling. Changes in the frequency of the returned pulse tell us if the rain drops are moving toward or away from the ship. This allows us to see the wind in areas where rain is falling.

Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Stratocumulus

Stratocumulus (weather symbol - Sc) clouds consist of water droplets and belong to the Low Cloud (surface-2000m) group. These clouds are low, lumpy, and gray. These clouds can look like cells under a microscope...more

Aerosols and Cloud Formation

When clouds form they contain millions of water droplets in each cubic meter of air. Each of the cloud droplets forms on a particle; scientists call a collection of particles an aerosol. These particles...more

Aerosols: Tiny Particulates in the Air

Aerosols, also called particulates, are tiny bits of solid or liquid suspended in the air. Some aerosols are so small that they are made only of a few molecules so small that they are invisible because...more

Radio Waves

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation. A radio wave has a much longer wavelength than does visible light. We use radio waves extensively for communications. Radio waves have wavelengths as...more

Rain

Rain is precipitation that falls to the Earth in drops of 5mm or greater in diameter according to the US National Weather Service. Virga is rain that evaporates before reaching the ground. Raindrops form...more

Winds in the Southeast Pacific

Winds in the Southeast Pacific have a strong influence on regional climate and play an important role in several large-scale, global climate phenomena. The Hadley cell is a global atmospheric circulation...more

Clouds and Precipitation in the Southeast Pacific

The cold sea surface temperatures and warm, dry air of the Southeast Pacific region create the perfect conditions for the formation of the low stratocumulus clouds that are found in this region. These...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA