This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Course Orientation. Together these serve as our course "contract."
Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science
Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science
- Office Hours: I want to help you learn, so don't be shy. Send me an email through Canvas, I'll respond as quickly as I can, and we'll set up an appointment for a Zoom meeting. Don't wait to the last-minute though. There will be times, such as on weekends, when I have other obligations and cannot respond within a few hours or even a day. So start working on assignments well ahead of the deadline.
- E-mail: email@example.com; Please use the course e-mail system (in Canvas) when possible. If your email is through Canvas, then I can easily find it, but if it's through regular email, it might get lost in the flurry of emails I receive each day.
- Phone: 814-308-3170
Teaching Assistant - none
- Office Hours:
- E-mail: Please use the course e-mail system (in Canvas).
This four-credit course gives students a solid foundation in the application of physical, chemical, and mathematical principles to broad range of atmospheric phenomena, including weather, air quality, and climate. It also prepares meteorology students for their 400-level meteorology courses. Students are introduced to fundamental concepts and applications of atmospheric thermodynamics, radiative transfer, atmospheric chemistry, cloud microphysics, atmospheric dynamics, and the atmospheric boundary layer. These topics are covered broadly but in enough depth to introduce students to the methods atmospheric scientists use to describe and predict atmospheric phenomena. The course is designed to be taken by second-year meteorology and atmospheric science students as well as by students in related disciplines who have an adequate mathematical and physical background.
Prerequisites and concurrent courses:
Prerequisites: CHEM 110, PHYS 211, MATH 141; Concurrent: MATH 230 or 231
Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period after being informed in writing by the instructor (see Senate policy 34-60, Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses). If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, please promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Students who re-enroll after being dis-enrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct.
When you have successfully completed METEO 300, you will be prepared to:
- describe in written and oral language the basic physical processes responsible for weather and climate, from global scale to microscale
- solve simple problems and derivations related to these physical processes
- demonstrate the importance of water vapor in all these processes
On average, most students spend six to ten hours per week working on course reading and assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits, your background, and your abilities.
I expect you to read all the material shortly after it is assigned, participate in discussions, do the assignments on time, ask questions (e.g., through the course Discussion Questions Forum, email and office hours, or during class for the in-residence version of the course) when you need help understanding the material, and think really hard about the course content. Don't try to cram the reading, problems, and quizzes for each lesson into one session of a few hours each week - that won't work very well. So spread the time you spend on each lesson over the course of the week that it is due - this will help maximize your learning! Remember, this course is the foundation for the upper level courses that come next and the foundation for the expertise in meteorology and atmospheric science that you will be able to apply to your career after graduation.
Required Course Materials
All materials needed for this course are presented online through Canvas. In order to access the online materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources).
Here is a list of textbooks that are not required for this course and you can learn the material without them. But you may want to get some or all of them so that you can read alternate explanations and descriptions of the atmospheric science that you will learn in this class. Some class material is derived from parts of these books.
Atmospheric Science, Second Edition: An Introductory Survey, by John M. Wallace and Peter V. Hobbs; Academic Press, 2006; ISBN-13: 978-0127329512 ISBN-10: 012732951X
An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, by James R. Holton and Gregory J. Hakim; Academic Press, 2013, ISBN: 0123848660, 9780123848666 (often used in Meteo 421, Atmospheric Dynamics)
Physics and Chemistry of Clouds, by Dennis Lamb and Johannes Verlinde, Cambridge University Press, 2011; ISBN: 9780521899109 (often used in Meteo 437, Cloud Physics and Chemistry)
Assistance with textbooks
Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, please visit the Office of Student Care and Advocacy at 120 Boucke Building or call 814-863-4926.
For additional needs, related to socioeconomic status, please visit Project Cahir.
This course will rely on four main methods to assess and evaluate student learning:
- Quizzes/Activity (50%)
- Discussion Forums (10%)
- Final Project (15%)
- Final Exam (25%)
There are a total of 35 quizzes, each of which may consist of some combination of problems, true/false answers, multiple-choice answers, pictures, and drawings. There is also one Excel workbook activity in the first lesson, which will be useful for some of your quizzes. The quizzes/activity vary in their weight and exact values may be found on Canvas.
In most cases for quiz questions involving mathematical solutions, you will be given an opportunity to practice solving problems and answering questions before you take the quiz. I highly recommend that you take the pratice quizzes as many times as you need to become confident in the material, especially the math. Then take the quiz when you are prompted to do so in the Lesson. All practice quizzes are in folders marked "Practice Quizzes" within each Lesson folder. The Practice Quizzes are not graded and do not affect your grade in any way (except to make you more competent and confident to take the graded Quizzes ).
While you can take practice quizzes as many times as needed, you are allowed to take each quiz only once. Do not click on the quiz name or icon until you are ready to take the quiz because you will be graded on your answers the first time, even if you are not ready to take the quiz. Furthermore, quizzes are timed and you may not pause a quiz and restart it. You may use your course notes or any other resources when taking the quizzes but you may never consult with another person, including other students in the class. Please resist the temptation to take a peek before you are ready to take the quiz because the grade that you get for peeking will be the grade that you get on the quiz. If you carefully read and think about the Lessons and then work the practice quizzes, you should be able to complete each quiz in less than half the allotted time. For students with approved disability exceptions, the allotted time should be more than sufficient.
There are a total of 5 equally weighted discussion forums, which allow you to think more deeply about a particular atmospheric phenomenon or concept.
There is an integrative final project in which you explain the physical processes occurring in atmospheric observations and solving quantitative problems associated with the observations. There is also an alternative project that allows you to delve into some aspect of the changing atmosphere.
There is a comprehensive final exam consisting of problems, true/false answers, multiple-choice answers, pictures, and drawings that either were on the quizzes or are closely related to previous quiz questions.
I will use the Canvas gradebook to keep track of your grades.
|A||93 - 100 %|
|A-||90 - 92.9 %|
|B+||87 - 89.9 %|
|B||83 - 86.9 %|
|B-||80 - 82.9 %|
|C+||75 - 79.9 %|
|C||70 - 74.9 %|
|D||60 - 70.9%|
|F||< 60 %|
|X||Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)|
The grades in this course will not be curved.
Extra credit will be given for a few different activities, such as picture of the week and finding errors.
I do not accept any "late work" except in extraordinary circumstances if you have contacted me as soon as you can in advance. The earlier you contact me to request a late submission, the better. Requests will be considered case by case and only for good reasons.
Meteo 300 Course SchedulePrintable Schedule
Below you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course is fifteen weeks long, and some lessons will be a little more than a week. See our Calendar in Canvas for specific lesson time frames and assignment due dates.
|Course Orientation||Course Orientation||
Personalize your Canvas space (if you want)
Introduce yourself and meet the rest of the class (in class and online)
|Lesson 1||Getting Started||
Quiz 1-1: Significant figures, dimensions, and units
Quiz 1-2: Solving integrals and differentials
Activity 1-3: Setting up an Excel workbook
Quiz 2-1: What will that air parcel do?
Quiz 2-2: Harnessing the power of the hydrostatic equation
Quiz 2-3: Energy budgets and balance
Quiz 2-4: Stability and buoyancy
Discussion Forum 1: Storms in the troposphere
|Lesson 3||Moist Processes||
Quiz 3-1: Atmospheric water vapor
Quiz 3-2: Humidity and relative humidity
Quiz 3-3: Energy problems
Quiz 3-4: Using the skew-T
|Lesson 4||Atmospheric Composition||
Discussion Forum 2: Trace gases
Quiz 4-1: Atmospheric lifetimes
Quiz 4-2: Atmospheric composition
|Lesson 5||Cloud Physics||
Quiz 5-1: Cloud drops and liquid mass
Discussion Forum 3: Cloud Identification
Quiz 5-2: Cloud formation essentials
Quiz 5-3: How cloud drops form
Quiz 5-4: How precipitation forms
|Lesson 6||Atmospheric Radiation||
Quiz 6-1: Sun Fun Facts
Quiz 6-2: Thank you Planck
Quiz 6-3: Absorbed in thought
Quiz 6-4: Scatter brained
|Lesson 7||Applications of Atmospheric Radiation Principles||
Quiz 7-1: Solving the Earth system's temperature problems
Discussion Forum 4: Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change
Quiz 7-2: Interpreting satellite remote sensing
|Lesson 8||Math and Conceptual Preparation for Understanding
Quiz 8-1: Partial derivatives and vector operations
Quiz 8-2: Finding coordinates and wind directions
Quiz 8-3: Grading your gradients
Discussion Forum 5: Eulerian and Lagrangian points of view
Quiz 8-4: The advection connection
Quiz 9-1: The way the wind blows
Quiz 9-2: Connecting the dots with vertical motion
|Lesson 10||Dynamics – Forces||
Quiz 10-1: All about forces
Quiz 10-2: Coordinates and scales
Quiz 10-3: Balance of forces and motion
Quiz 10-4: Feeling the thermal wind
|Lesson 11||Atmospheric Boundary Layer||
Quiz 11-1: Boundary layer behavior
Quiz 11-2: State of flux
Quiz 11-3: Energy in the boundary layer
|Lesson 12||Wrapping Up||
Class Support Services
Penn State Online offers online tutoring to World Campus students in math, writing, and some business classes. Tutoring and guided study groups for residential students are available through Penn State Learning.
Penn State E-mail Accounts
All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.
For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).
Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.
This site is considered a secure website which means that your connection is encrypted. We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our Technical Requirements page to view the mixed content.
Connect Online with Caution
Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision-making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information to others whom you do not know.
This course follows the EMS academic integrity procedures. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Academic Integrity Training for Students".
All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected 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 instructor’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.
For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources website
In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. See documentation guidelines at Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.
Regular attendance is critical for building the skills and knowledge developed throughout the class. Students who participate have a more complete understanding of the material presented and are more likely to succeed in the class. The University recognizes that, on exceptional occasions, students may miss a class meeting to participate in a regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activity (such as field trips, debate trips, choir trips, and athletic contests), or due to unavoidable or other legitimate circumstances such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, religious observance, participation in local, state, and federal government elections, or post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to reschedule these opportunities (such as elections or employment and graduate school final interviews). In all cases, you should inform me in advance, when possible. Missing class, even for a legitimate purpose, may mean there is work that cannot be made up, hurting your grade in this class. Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help. You should be prepared to provide documentation for participation in University-approved activities, as well as for career-related interviews. You should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form, at least one week prior to the activity.
If seats are assigned in the classroom, it’s important that you sit in your assigned seat for each class period you attend. Physical attendance will NOT be used as part of the calculation of your course grade, but participation may be used.
Change in Normal Campus Operations
Campus emergencies, including weather delays and closures, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at PSUAlert).
Reporting Educational Equity Concerns
Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.
Counseling and Psychological Services
Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitivity to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Services include the following:
Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741
If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period. It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion. If for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.
Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.
Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.
Mandated Reporting Statement
Penn State's policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State's Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.
Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.
Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect
Penn State is committed to creating an educational environment that is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.
For additional information, see:
- Penn State Affirmative Action Nondiscrimination Statement
- Policy AD 85 Sexual and/or Gender-Based Harassment and Misconduct, Title IX
- Penn State Values
- Action Together: Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Penn State
- Assessment of the Living, Learning, and Working Environment (ALLWE) in EMS| Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes to the syllabus shall also be given to the student in written (paper or electronic) form.