Water Cycle - Weather (6)

  • Comparing satellite photos with weather maps.
  • Reading satellite photos.
  • meteorologist
  • satellite photos
  • front

Students interpret satellite photos.


Satellite maps take a "snapshot" of the weather. Meteorologists use them to see how air masses move. There are certain movements of the atmosphere that are very predictable and move according to where pressure ridges are traveling. When air masses move into each other, they sometimes produce severe weather conditions.

A front is a boundary or line along which a mass of air meets and moves into another mass of air, which is either colder, warmer, occluded (mixed), or stationary (not moving). If warm air displaces cold air at the ground, the front is referred to as a warm front. This passage is relatively mild and marked by the cessation of precipitation. When cold air displaces warm air at the ground, the front is referred to as a cold front. The passage of a cold front is likely to be marked by a violent convective rainstorm.

  1. These photos come from the National Weather Service, and are produced by satellites. Discuss with students what weather is and how it differs from climate.
  2. This exercise will allow students to observe the differences between a newspaper weather map and a map used by a meteorologist used to create weather maps. After they answer the questions using the photos, have students look at weather symbol maps from the Pre Lab. Discuss what features you can and cannot see on their maps. Impress on them that all weather maps in the paper are interpretations of the satellite photos, symbols on a weather map are a way to describe features. If you have a local newspaper, compare the information from the satellite photo with the weather map.
  3. Use the U.S. placemats so students can visualize the states. This lab can be customized and updated easily. You can record your local weather information on a video cassette. Especially record the stations that use satellite pictures.
  4. Have the students make a synoptic weather map (map with symbols) on the blank. Remember the maps that they create will be an interpretation, and difficult to have a right or wrong answer.
  1. November 13, 1986
  2. November 15, 1986
  3. Pacific Ocean near Baja, California Cyclone
  4. November 13, 1986, from Caribbean, north to east coast of United States
  5. November 15, 1986 because the fronts are well defined, meaning more storms
  6. no
  7. California, Arizona, Nevada
  8. They are useful in determining weather, finding areas with mineral wealth, locating vegetated areas, locating water areas, finding snow covered areas, determining soil and landforms
  9. Missing information includes precipitation, wind speed, and specific type of cloud. Creating a weather map that you see in the newspaper is difficult and require a lot of information. Weather maps are more useful to determine the weather, than satellite photos. However, weather maps are many times interpretation of the weather person who is doing the map. The weather maps that the students will make are subjective, and really not have a right or wrong answer. It is the effort to try and interpret what they see on the satellite, which is difficult.

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