METEO 434 Radar Meteorology

Radar Meteorology Instructor: Prof. Matt Kumjian Lecture: MWF, 12:20–1:10 pm, 101 Walker Building

METEO 434: Radar Meteorology

  • Instructor: Prof. Matt Kumjian

  • Office: 513 Walker Building
  • Phone: 814-863-1581
  • E-mail:
  • Website:
  • Teaching Assistant: Robert Schrom (E-mail:
; Office Hours: TBD)
  • Lecture: MWF, 12:20–1:10 pm, 101 Walker Building

  • Office Hours: TBD, or by appointment, 513 Walker Building 

Pre-requisite: METEO 437 (Atmospheric Chemistry and Cloud Physics)

Concurrent: METEO 414 (Mesoscale Meteorology)

Required Textbook: Doppler Radar and Weather Observations by R. J. Doviak and D. S. Zrnić. Get it online here or at the University Book Store. Be sure to check out the errata here! 

Optional Texts:

Polarimetric Doppler Weather Radar: Principles and Applications by V. N. Bringi and V. Chandrasekar

Radar Meteorology: Principles and Practice by F. Fabry

Note: any required readings from these optional texts will be provided. These books will be on reserve at the EMS Library.

Topics to be Covered (may change based on time and/or class interest):
 History of radar; electromagnetic theory (spectrum, waves, propagation, polarization); radar hardware; principles of electromagnetic scattering off atmospheric particles (Rayleigh- Gans and Mie); definition of radar reflectivity; the Doppler principle and velocity estimation; the Doppler spectrum; polarization diversity radar; dual-polarization radar variables (ZH, ZDR, ΦDP, KDP, ρhv, LDR, etc.) and their physical meaning; artifacts in dual-pol radar data; applications of dual-pol measurements including hydrometeor classification quantita- tive precipitation estimation, observations in clear air (insects, birds, fires), winter storms (ice crystals, heavy snow, transition regions), and severe convective storms (updrafts, hail, tornadoes); frequency diversity radar, other radar systems (wind profilers, vertically pointing). 

Grading: Your final grade will be based on the following:

  • Midterm Exams (2) 15%

  • Final Exam 20%
Radar Project 20%
  • Weekly Radar Discussions 15%
  • Homework Assignments 15% 

Exam Policy:

I will administer the midterm exams during a special evening session, unless students are opposed to this. The idea is to give you more time than is available during the normal class period. We will determine the dates of the midterm exams within the first week of class.

Except for illness or emergencies, make-up exams will be conducted only for students who make arrangements with me prior to the scheduled exam time. 

Weekly Radar Discussions

You are required to turn in an example of something interesting you find on radar on a weekly basis. The example should consist of an image or series of images (screenshots, animations are fine) with a ∼half-page description of what the radar shows and why it is neat. These weekly examples should be uploaded to the Angel class website (a drop box will be provided) by 11:59:59 pm local time of the Thursday of each week. I will choose one or more of these examples for you to present informally in class (no more than ∼2 − 3 minutes) for a discussion.

I recommend getting a radar viewing “app” on your mobile devices or computer. For example, I have Radarscope, available for purchase here. You can also access radar images online at and 

Radar Project

There will be a final project involving a short (< 10-page) paper and presentation on a case study of your choice using polarimetric WSR-88D radar data. You will order the data from the National Climatic Data Center website and generate images using their Weather and Climate Toolkit (or other software, if you’re feeling adventurous...). The analysis should involve some data interrogation (i.e., be quantitative). Parts of the project will be due at various points throughout the semester. More details will be provided during the course.

Course Objectives:

  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to describe in class a variety of atmospheric phenomena depicted on radar imagery (relate to program objectives a, b, c, and e). 

  2. Students can demonstrate the ability to quantify the reflectivity and radial velocity field as measured by radar given a description of a weather phenomenon (relate to program objectives a and d). 

  3. Students can demonstrate the ability to relate radar reflectivity to rainfall rate, and discuss factors that contribute to the uncertainty in the rainfall rate estimation (relate to program objectives a, b and c). 

  4. Students can demonstrate the ability to discuss basic principles of multi-parameter radar measurements (relate to program objectives a, c, and e). 

Course Outcomes:

  1. Students can demonstrate skills for the analysis and interpretation of radar imagery of the atmosphere (relate to program outcome 1, 2, and 3).
  2. Students can demonstrate familiarity with the electromagnetic principles underlying the sampling of the atmosphere using radars (relate to program outcome 1).


Students who do not meet the prerequisites after being informed in writing by the instructor may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period ( aappm/C-5-lack-prerequisites-concurrent-courses-course-duplication.html). If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instruc- tor if you have not done so already. Students who re-enroll after being dis-enrolled ac- cording to this policy are in violation of item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct (http: // 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner, and is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity in the College. As such, all are expected to act with personal integrity, respect for other students’ dignity, rights, and property, and to help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the EMS community and compromise the worth of work completed by others. The full college policy on academic integrity can be found at http: //

Simply put, don’t cheat. This includes but is not limited to copying, plagiarism, self- plagiarism, etc., all of which can result in a 0 on the assignment and/or an F or XF grade in the course. Ultimately, it negatively affects you: imagine the future disappointment of employers, family, and friends when you turn out to be a lousy radar meteorologist. If you struggle with material, come see me or others for help! 

Campus Emergencies and Inclement Weather:

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News ( and communicated to mobile devices, email, the Penn State Face- book page, and Twitter via the PSU Alert System (to sign up, please see https://psualert. 

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

In the event that special accommodations are needed to help you be successful in this course, please notify me as soon as possible with an official letter from the Office for Disabil- ity Services ( In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: 

Assistance with Textbooks

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you re- quire assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Stu- dent and Family Services (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, http://studentaffairs.psu. edu/familyservices/). For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit 

Attendance Policy

This course abides by the Penn State Class Attendance Policy 42-27: http://senate., Attendance Policy E-11: oue/aappm/E-11.html, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: 44-00.html#44-35. Please also see Illness Verification Policy: http://studentaffairs., and Religious Observance Policy: http: // Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will

be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes. Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, family emergencies, and regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular ac- tivities. Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of Student and Family Services for help: http: // Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar’s Office:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are pro- tected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the in- structor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.