An Advection Simulation


In order to forecast, students need to understand how advection influences the weather.  Since advection is a process, students need to view the phenomenon dynamically rather than through a static map.  Furthermore, students need to manipulate relevant variables (e.g. wind speed and direction) to investigate their effect on the advection process.

For undergraduate majors, advection is explained with equations.  However, for non-majors as well as high school students, using equations to explain advection often detracts from understanding the underlying physical phenomenon.  The purpose of this use case is to define a simulation which will allow students to investigate the process of advection prior to a discussion of the process.


Students are given a weather map of the U.S. with an initial temperature contour gradient.  Students will be able to specify the wind direction, speed and duration. When the simulation is run, the temperature gradient will move as a result of their input parameters.  An example is shown in  AdvectionSim . (We didn't have the manpower to develop a proper gradient display and so only used straight lines gradients.  Unidata to the rescue?)

Depending on the level of the student, students may be asked to:

Main Scenario

  1. Display U.S. map with temperature gradient
  2. Student adjusts input parameters
  3. Student clicks RUN and views animation
  4. Student resets simulation and runs again, as needed
  5. Student submits answers for grading

Subordinate Use Cases

  1. Select an appropriate archived dataset.

  2. Do we have a growing list of "interesting" datasets supplied by instructors?
  3. Student adjusts input parameters

  4. There may be cases when students might view an actual event without changing parameters. This becomes a demonstration.