Project 3: Convection

In this project we enquire in to the nature of the convective process. We will simulate convection in the laboratory using a tank of water with a heating pad at its base and study convection in the atmosphere using thermodynamic diagrams.

Project Description (PDF)

Notes on relevant theory:

Convection of an incompressible fluid (PDF)

Convection in a compressible atmosphere (PDF)

Lecture Notes from course 12.003 (Physics of Atmospheres and Oceans) - Chapter 4: Convection (This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader.PDF - 1.9 MB)

Tank Experiment

A description of the Convection Experiment can be found at the Weather in a Tank Web site

Atmospheric Data

Dry convection

Example: Aberdeen, SD July 15-16, 2006 - Surface Map

Case Study: Yuma, AZ June 18, 2007 - see Surface Map


  • Altitude, Pressure, Temperature, and Dew Point data every two hours 
  • Station surface data including incoming solar radiation 

Create your own plots:


Moist convection

Example: Tallahassee, FL, April 14, 2008

Case Study: Charleston, SC April 13, 2008

Create your own profile:

  • Radiosondes obs (850mb) to get the name of the sounding location
  • Sounding Profile - for moist convection set SNPARM = thte (equivalent potential temperature) or thts (saturation equivalent potential temperature)

Other links: