Meteorology exercises and Problem Solving

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Spring 2012

Course Syllabus and Objectives

C. H. Murphy

Meteorology 1300: Introduction to Meteorology

Department of Geology & Meteorology

Kean University

Union, NJ 07083

Course Syllabus

Spring 2012 – Section 06

Instructor: C. H. Murphy

Office: C-326

Phone; 908-737-3740



Student Objectives: Become acquainted with the fundamentals of meteorology, including historical considerations, basic physical laws, elements of weather, meso and global scale processes, and observation and forecasting of the weather, develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the behavior of the atmosphere. Develop the ability to synthesize information, concepts, and laws relating to meteorology toward the goal of solving problems or assessing given situations in a critical and scientifically sound manner.

Attendance: Class attendance is required for all quizzes, exams and class presentations.

Textbook: Meteorology Today, 9th Edition, by C. D. Ahrens, Brooks/Cole, 2009.

Laboratory Manual: METEOROLOGY Exercises and Problem Solving, by C. H. Murphy, 2010.

Copyright C. H. Murphy 2012 All Rights Reserved

Evaluation of Performance and Grading

Evaluation Instruments and Activities

3 exams, 100 points each (exams will cover material from lectures, labs and reading assignments), Comprehensive Essay 100 points.

Total Possible Points 400

Course Grade: The grade for the course is determined based on total accumulated points from the exams. The point values required to obtain a specific grade are:

Course Grade

Total Points


360 or above


347 – 359


333 – 346


320 – 333


307 – 319


293 – 306


280 – 292


240 – 279


less than 240

Course Structure

This course in introductory meteorology is built around the idea of progressing from information and concepts to synthesis to understanding.

[ information + concepts ] --> synthesis --> understanding

The course will consist of three major parts each occupying four weeks. During those four weeks class time will be partly devoted to lecture on specific topics, lab exercise, and question/answer and discussion sessions. The lectures will focus on details of important topics; however the bulk of background information must be obtained from readings in the textbook and other sources. As a stimulus for discussion periodic homework assignments will be made. Class time, lab work, and homework are designed to prepare the student to bring the concepts and information together and develop a logical and scientifically tenable presentation in the form of a synthesis report. The synthesis report will be based on projects carried out in the lab portion of the course. The report should demonstrate an understanding of concepts and show the ability to apply them in a creative manner. The report should use the concepts and factual information in a way that demonstrates understanding.

Course Content and Student Objectives


Introduction to Meteorology

a. Meteorological Variables and Atmospheric Properties

b. Definitions

c. Historical Highlights

Student Objectives

1. Knowledge of the principal developments in meteorology, including the major individuals, theoretical ideas, inventions, and the chronological sequence.

2. To be aware of the different meteorological variables and atmospheric properties and the importance of each.

Text Chapters 1, Appendices A, B, C, Labbook Chapter 1


I. Temperature and Temperature Change

a. Definition

b. Measuring Temperature

b. Observational Data

II. Temperature Change and Energy

III. Radiation Laws

Student Objectives

1. To explain the concepts of energy and temperature and how they are related.

2. To demonstrate how temperature change is affected by solar energy input, seasons, latitude and clouds.

3. To apply the radiation laws to explain the basic theory of global warming.

4. To be able to explain the global distribution of temperature on the surface of the earth.

Text Chapters 2, 3


I. Atmospheric Pressure

a. Definition

b. Measuring Pressure

b. Observational Data

II. Gas laws

III. Pressure Gradient Force

Student Objectives

1. To define atmospheric pressure, and explain how it is measured.

2. To define air density and explain why it is a fundamental quantity of importance in meteorology.

3. To use the gas laws to predict the behavior of a gas with respect to pressure, density, and temperature.

4. To explain the vertical variation of pressure, how it depends upon temperature, and upper level maps (i.e. ridges and troughs).

5. To describe the pressure gradient force, what it depends upon, and why it is important in meteorology.

Text Chapters: 8, Appendix H

Water and Water Vapor

I. Water in the Atmosphere

a. Properties of Water

b. Measuring Humidity

c. Observational Data

II. Lifting and Cloud Formation

a. Types of clouds

b. Lifting and Adiabatic Processes

c. The Pseudo-adiabatic Diagram

III. Precipitation Processes

a. Ice Crystal Process

b. Collision-coalescence

Student Objectives:

1. To understand the concept of vapor pressure, saturation vapor pressure and the dependence of saturation vapor pressure on temperature.

2. To know the various humidity definitions and how each changes with temperature and water vapor content of the air.

3. To be familiar with the methods for measuring humidity.

4. To appreciate the importance of the latent heat of vaporization as a mechanism for the transport of energy through the atmosphere.

5. To understand how the adiabatic process allows prediction of the temperature of parcels of air and atmospheric stability.

6. To know the factors that affect the formation of precipitation and to be able to make a reasonable judgment of what processes are taking place within a cloud based on the observations of precipitation type and intensity at the earth's surface.

Text Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, Appendices D, G, Cloud Chart

Winds and Circulation

I. Winds

a. Definitions

b. Wind measurement

II. Forces and Frames of Reference

a. Forces and Newton’s Second Law

b. Inertial and Non-inertial Frames of Reference

c. Atmospheric Forces

III. Steady Flow in the Atmosphere

a. Geostrophic Wind

b. Gradient Wind

c. Cross-isobar Flow

d. Cyclostrophic Flow

IV. Upper Level Winds

a. Contour Maps

b. Geostrophic and Gradient Winds

Student Objectives:

1. To develop an understanding that all observations are made relative to a frame of reference. To know that accelerating frames of reference produce fictitious forces of which the Coriolis force is of primary importance for studying atmospheric motions.

2. To be familiar with the important forces that act in the atmosphere, know their properties and characteristics and when they may be ignored.

3. To understand the concept of steady flow in the atmosphere and the balance of forces necessary to produce it, and to know in detail the various wind systems that result from specific conditions of force balance.

4. To be able to apply the wind systems to upper levels of the atmosphere.

Text Chapters 8, 9 and 10

Data and Processes: Understanding the Atmosphere

I. Relationship of Heat, Temperature and Atmospheric Pressure

a. Definition and Factors Affecting Pressure

b. Air Masses and Pressure Systems

c. Temperature and Pressure Distributions

d. Energy Transformation in Air Masses and Pressure Systems

II. Cyclones and Waves

a. Air Masses and Fronts

b. Features of a Well-developed Cyclone

c. Evolution of a Cyclone in Mid-latitudes

d. Energy Transformation Process

III. Methods of Weather forecasting

a. Phenomonalism

b. Persistence

c. Climatology

d. Numerical Weather Prediction

e. Statistical Methods

f. Incorporation of Local Influences

IV. Making a weather forecast

a. Data Resources and Information Access

b. Methods and Procedures

c. Presentation of Forecast

d. Verification of Results

Student Objectives:

1. To be familiar with the development, characteristics, life cycle, and possible importance of secondary circulations such as monsoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, and various small scale circulations.

2. To be able to discuss the sources of energy for atmospheric storms and how that energy is store and then released in the storm development process.

3. To be familiar with the traveling wave cyclone model including pressure distribution, winds, fronts, precipitation, and the relations to upper level patterns of convergence and divergence. To know the development and life cycle of the traveling wave cyclone.

4. To become familiar with the principles of weather forecasting.

5. To know what resources are available for weather forecasting.

6. To be able to prepare a two day weather forecast for a given local area using a wide variety of data resources and verify the validity of that forecast.

Text Chapters 11, 12 13

Atmospheric Circulation Systems

I. Hurricanes

II. Thunderstorms

III. Tornadoes

IV. Monsoons

V. Small Scale Circulations

VI. General Circulation of the Atmosphere

Student Objectives:

1. To know the difference between large-scale circulations and secondary circulations and the factor that affect each, and to know the characteristics of small scale circulations and the reasons why they occur.

2 To understand the general circulation as resulting from the need to establish a heat balance in the atmosphere and to know several ways that the circulation may accomplish this heat balance.

Text Chapters 10, 14, 15.

Bibliography for Introduction to Meteorology

(Also see the textbook for Additional Reading Materials pp. R1-R2 after the appendices)

Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere, S. Ackerman, Brooks/Cole, 2001.

Meteorology, R. A. Anthes, Prentice Hall, 1996.

The Atmosphere, F. K. Lutgens, E. J. Tarbuck, and D. Tasa, Prentice-Hall Inc., 2010.

Meteorology Today, C. D. Ahrens, West Publishing Co., 2009.

Clouds in a Glass of Beer: Simple Experiments in Atmospheric Physics, C. F. Bohren, John Wiley, 1987.

General Climatology , H. J. Critchfield, Prentice-Hall Inc., 4th edition, 1998.

Climatology: An Atmospheric Science, J. Hidore, J. E. Oliver, M. Snow and R. Snow, 3rd edition, 2009.

Climatology, R. Rohli and A. J. Vega, 2011.

Ecological Climatology: Concepts and Applications , G. B. Bonan, 2008.

The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change, D. Archer and S. Rahmstorf, 2010.

Global Warming: The Complete Briefing, J. Houghton, 2009.

Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future, E. A. Mathez, 2009.

The Greenhouse Effect, M. A. Kraljic, H. W. Wilson, Inc., New York, 1992.

Climate in Earth History, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D. C., 1982.

Storm and Cloud Dynamics, W. R. Cotton, and R. A. Anthes, Academic Press, 1992.

Severe and Hazardous Weather, R. Rauber, J. Walsh, D. Charlevoix, 2005.

Extreme Weather and Climate, C. D. Ahrens and P. J. Samson, 2010.

Clouds and Storms; The Behavior of Water in the Atmosphere, F. H. Ludlam, American Meteorological Society, 1980.

Elements of Geosystems, R. W. Christopherson, Prentice Hall, 2001.

The Weather Book, J. Williams, Vintage Books, 1992.

Atlas of World Geography, Rand McNally, 1997.

Physical Geography, A. Strahler, and A. Strahler, John Wiely, 2002.

Ozone Depletion, Greenhouse Gases, and Climate Change, National Academy of Sciences, 1989

The Hurricane, R. Pielke, Routledge Publishers, London, 1990.

Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes, K. A. Emanuel, 2005.

Monsoons, J. S. Feir and P. L. Stephens, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1987.

Global Patterns, Climate, Vegetation, and Soils, E. Akin, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1991.


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