METEO 437 Kumjian SP2015

Atmospheric Chemistry and Cloud Physics Instructor: Dr. Matt Kumjian TA: Dana Tobin MWF, 9:05-9:55am 105 Walker Building

Atmospheric Chemistry and Cloud Physics


Prof. Matt Kumjian


513 Walker Building





Dana Tobin


MWF, 9:05-9:55 am, 105 Walker Building

Office Hours:

M, 3:30-5:00 pm; by appointment; or when my door is open!

Required Textbook:

Physics and Chemistry of Clouds by D. Lamb and J. Verlinde. Get it online here or at the University Book Store. Be sure to check out the errata here!

Optional Texts:

Microphysics of Clouds and Precipitation by H. R. Pruppacher and J. D. Klett
A Short Course in Cloud Physics by R. R. Rogers and M. K. Yau
Note: any required readings from these optional texts will be provided. These books will be on reserve at the EMS Library. You can also download the entire PDF of Pruppacher and Klett through the university library here.


  • METEO 300 (Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science)
  • METEO 431 (Atmospheric Thermodynamics)


Your final grade will be based on the following:

  • Midterm Exam 1 (date TBD) 20%
  • Midterm Exam 2 (date TBD) 20%
  • Final Exam (date will be on eLion) 20%
  • Quizzes 20%
  • Cloud Physics Journal 20%

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.

Cloud Physics Journal

On a weekly basis, you are required to turn in an observation or example of something interesting pertaining to cloud physics as part of your semester-long "Cloud Physics Journal." This could include a photograph of an interesting cloud, observations of snow crystal habit or raindrop sizes, optical effects (e.g., rainbows, halos, sunsets), radar images, reports from the mPING project (download the App if you haven't already!), etc., along with a ~paragraph description of what it is and why you find it interesting. These weekly examples should be submitted to the appropriate folder on Angel by 11:59:59 pm local time of the Thursday of each week. I will choose one or more of these examples every other week for you to present informally in class (no more than ~2-3 minutes) for a discussion.

Be creative! This is a way for you to observe clouds and precipitation and learn about topics you find interesting. Ultimately, at the end of the semester you'll have a collection of unique observations related to cloud physics, and hopefully the knowledge about what causes the things you observe.

Problem Sets and Quizzes

I will be assigning problem sets (``homework") on a ~weekly basis. These problems are for you to work through with your peers. It is up to you individually to make sure you understand the concepts! I will not collect or grade these problems, nor will I hand out solutions. You may come see me or our TA if you have difficulties.

Every other week there will be an in-class quiz that is based on the previous two weeks' problem set(s). If you understand how to solve the problems, these quizzes will be straightforward. The philosophy here is to make sure you understand important concepts yourself, without the help of others.

Course Objectives:

  1. Students can demonstrate familiarity with microphysical principles and how they determine the structures of the atmosphere and clouds (relate to program objectives 1 and 2).

  2. Students can demonstrate the ability to apply principles of cloud microphysics and atmospheric chemistry to the solution of atmospheric problems (relate to program objectives 1 and 3).

Course Outcomes:

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of cloud properties (relate to program outcomes a, b, and c).
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the thermodynamic drivers of cloud development and evolution (relate to program outcomes b, c, and d).

Academic Integrity
This course adopts the Academic Integrity Policy of the EMS College. Briefly, students are expected to do their own problem sets and to work the exams on their own. Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write up his or her answers separately. Students may not copy problem set or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own even if you worked together to figure out how to solve the problem. Students who present other people's work as their own, as well as the students providing the answers, will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F in the course.

Every so often, we see that on the homework one or more students have copied the files of another student. This is easy to spot, and deal with.

Please refer to the Academic Integrity and Research Ethics page on the EMS website for details of University and College policies.

Students with Learning 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 Disability Services (ODS) provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services 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, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation based on the Educational Equity Documentation Guidelines. 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.

This course abides by the Penn State Class Attendance Policy 42-27, Attendance Policy E-11:, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-3. Please also see Illness Verification Policy, and Religious Observance Policy. 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 activities.  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.  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.

Weather Delays
Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: 

Deferred Grades
If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. 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.

Military Personnel
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.

Disclaimer Statement
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 will be posted to the course discussion forum.