Introductory Meteorology

Meteorology 003

Introductory Meteorology, Spring 2018

COURSE DESCRIPTION.  A non-technical treatment of the fundamentals of modern meteorology.  My goal is to provide you with a practical, scientific framework that will make you a better “weather consumer”, primed to understand and use all the weather and climate information that is now at your fingertips.

CLASS TIME/PLACE. Mon-Wed-Fri 1:25-2:15 PM, 112 Walker

INSTRUCTOR. Dr. Jon Nese, 518 Walker, 863-4076,, @jmnese

OFFICE HOURS. Mon 9:00-10:00 AM, Tue 3:30-4:30 PM, Thu 8:00-9:00 AM 

TEACHING ASSISTANT. Matthew Williams, OH:  Wed 10:00-11:00 AM  

TEXT. Clicker is required, but no textbook. An introductory meteorology textbook, A World of Weather:  Fundamentals of Meteorology, is on reserve in the Earth and Mineral Sciences library in Deike Building if you need a reference.  I will loosely follow that textbook. 

Given that the weather is often “real-time”, I will often treat the course as such.  Your best resource is to come to class.  Pay attention to emails as well.  These web sites will be useful: 

  •   (tools for instruction)
  •  (video home page)
  • (my “home page” for weather information) 


  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of atmospheric composition and structure
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of scientific methods relating to qualitative and quantitative analysis of atmospheric variables and can develop some basic analysis techniques to aid in understanding weather and climate
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of a wide range of atmospheric phenomena and their roles in affecting weather and climate on local, regional, and global scales 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY.  This course follows the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences integrity policy here: 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." 

ASSESSMENT TOOLS.   There will be two in-class exams on Friday February 9 and Friday March 30, and a final exam (during finals week) scheduled by the University. Conflict/make-up exams will be given for legitimate reasons. Missing an exam is a serious matter and must be discussed with me beforehand.  There will be an online quiz (administered via Canvas) at the end of every week except the first week of class and the weeks of exams – thus, there will be 12 quizzes.  I will drop your two lowest quiz grades (there will be no make-up quizzes).  Instructions for taking quizzes will be given in class. 

There will be multiple homeworks (“labs”), probably 6 or 7, assigned approximately every other Friday starting in the second week of class.  Homework will be due the following Wednesday in class.  There will be a 25% penalty for any homework turned in late, a 50% deduction for more than six hours late, and more than 24 hours late means no credit at all.  

GRADING. Here’s how your course grade will be built, and the grading scale. 

Component  % of Course Grade Letter grade Average

  • * Exam 1: 15% or 18% A >= 90%
  • * Exam 2: 15% or 18% B 80 – 90%
  • Final Exam: 22% C 70 – 80%
  • Quizzes: 8% D 60 – 70%
  • Homeworks 30% F < 60%
  • Clicker (for Attendance) 7%  

*    I will give the greater weight to the exam on which you score higher

**   Requires participation in at least 75% of the questions in a class 

COURSE SCHEDULE.  In part, the order in which we cover material will be driven by the weather situation, but here’s a general outline and schedule.  Coming to class, checking Canvas, and reading my emails will be the best strategy for keeping up with the material. 

Weeks / Topics                            

  • 1-3 Atmospheric Structure and Analysis;  Basic Variables
  • 4 Winter Weather Topics      
  • 5-6 Radiation Basics and Remote Sensing (Satellite & Radar)
  • 7-8 Forces, Winds, Jet Streams
  • 9-10 Forecasting; Numerical Weather Prediction
  • 11-12 Stability, Severe Weather
  • 13-15 Tropical Weather; El Nino; Climate Change 

Special topics sprinkled throughout the semester, when appropriate:  Sports and Weather; Lightning;  Meteorological Myths;  Colors of the Sky

ATTENDANCE POLICY   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, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  

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:  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. 

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 (see to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information. 

WEATHER DELAYS.  Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: 

COURSE COPYRIGHT.  All course materials that students receive or have online access to are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use, 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 violates this policy. 

ACCOMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES.  Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into its educational programs. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( 

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: 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. 

REPORTING BIAS-MOTIVATED INCIDENTS.  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 ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage

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 well-being.  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 sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following: 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park: 814-863-0395

Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400

Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741