Instructor - Peter Bannon Tuesday and Thursday 9:45-11:00 a.m. 126 Walker Building


Elective course for Meteo Majors
A writing intensive ‘W’ course 

Course description: This three-credit course deals with selected topics in dynamical and physical meteorology and oceanography. The focus this spring will be on the history of meteorological thought in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Important developments in this period include the development of a theory of cloud formation, thermodynamic charts, CAPE as the “positive area”, early models of extratropical cyclones, the emergence of the polar front theory of the Norwegian school, the thermal wind relation, the circulation theorem, available potential energy, and many more! 

Course objectives: The main objective of this course is to develop a perspective on the progress of science in general and on the development of the discipline of meteorology in particular.  You will achieve this objective largely through the three writing assignments using the lectures and readings as the conceptual groundwork.  As a writing intensive course, you will be evaluated largely on the scientific content and quality of your writing assignments. 

Tentative schedule: During the first several weeks there will be lectures during each class period.  These lectures will survey the development of meteorology from antiquity to about 1800.  We will then start to discuss the development of meteorology from 1800 onwards through reading and discussion in a more seminar style.  Later there will be student oral presentations based on their term papers. 

Writing assignments: The course will include three writing assignments.  All assignments should be word-processed, double spaced, spell-checked documents on 8 1/2 x 11 paper with one-inch margins using 12-point Times font.  Electronic submission (e.g., as a Word document) is encouraged but not required. The first assignment will be to write a 1-2 page critique of a writing by Aristotle in his Meteorologica.  This assignment will be constructively assessed in order to improve the student’s writing.  The second will be a 5-10 page paper on an important scientist, epoch, school, era or theme in the advancement of the discipline of meteorology. The third is the term project.

Term project: A term project reviewing the scientific literature on a meteorology research topic chosen by the student in collaboration with the instructor (or another Meteo faculty member) is required.  The topic need not be related to the course text or lectures.  This paper should be 10-15 pages in length.  The students will give oral presentations of their work to the class.

Class participation: I expect you to attend all classes, to have done all the readings assigned prior to class, to ask questions, to offer comments, and to participate in the discussions.

Examinations and problem sets:  None

Grading policy: Your final grade will be based as follows:  20% for each writing assignment, 40% for the term project, 10% for classroom participation, and 10% for oral presentations. 

Prerequisites: Meteo431 is required; Meteo 421, 436 and 437 are recommended.


  • The Thermal Theory of Cyclones by Kutzbach is recommended.
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is recommended.
  • Eloquent Science by Schultz is recommended.
Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday  9:45-11:00 a.m. 126 Walker Building


  • 521 Walker Building
  • 863-1309                              
  • Office hours:  Tues. and Thurs. 11:00 a. m. -12:30 p.m., by appointment, or whenever the door is open 

Teaching Assistant: None

Objectives and Outcomes for Meteo 497A

Meteo 497A Course Objectives

  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to write scientific essays on a research topic in the atmospheric sciences.

Meteorology BS Program Objectives

  1. To produce graduates who possess quantitative, scientific reasoning skills that can be applied to atmospheric problems.
  2. To produce graduates who have a general knowledge of a range of atmospheric phenomena and applications, and have expertise in one or more program sub disciplines or related interdisciplinary areas
  3. To produce graduates who are equipped to contribute to solving problems in the atmospheric sciences and related disciplines, through service in business or as educators, researchers, and leaders in academia, government, the private sector, and civil society.

Meteo 497A Course Outcomes

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of effective scientific writing principles, including proper organization of the material and use of good English.
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of basic issues in the history of meteorology.

Meteorology BS Program Outcomes

  1. Graduates can demonstrate skills for interpreting and applying atmospheric observations
  2. Graduates can demonstrate knowledge of the atmosphere and its evolution
  3. Graduates can demonstrate knowledge of the role of water in the atmosphere
  4. Graduates can demonstrate facility with computer applications to atmospheric problems
  5. Graduates can demonstrate skills for communicating their technical knowledge



Students who do not meet these prerequisites after being informed in writing by the instructor may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period: http:/ If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then 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:

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, contact the Office of Student and Family Services (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit

Academic Integrity

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. 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 "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 

Course Copyright

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. 

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 Disability Services (ODS) website 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 documentation guidelines ( 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. 


This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11:, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: 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: http:/ and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: 

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.

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. 

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute 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 ITS Help Desk ( 


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review some general Netiquette guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course. 

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.