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Ethan L. Nelson
,
Tristan S. L’Ecuyer
,
Adele L. Igel
, and
Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Radar is an important tool for investigating and forecasting processes in Earth’s atmosphere. More specifically, multiple frequencies of radar with sensitivities to cloud and precipitation regimes are important for process-level weather and climate studies. An online educational applet (http://lecuyer.aos.wisc.edu/radarlabviewer) has been developed to provide a learning experience about this topic with an intended audience of undergraduate and graduate university–level students. Cloud-resolving model data coupled with a radar instrument simulator provide a three-dimensional view of a midlatitude winter cyclone that is explorable through the applet. This synthetic laboratory environment provides direct comparisons between modeled hydrometeors and simulated instrument observations allowing students to visualize the concepts of attenuation, non-Rayleigh scattering, insensitivity of instruments, and viewing perspective. Variations in the minimum detectable signal of instruments also expose students to the real-world tradeoffs between instrument features and costs. Additional development and formal educational assessment of the applet is planned in the future.

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