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Physics / Physics 301


Catalog Entry

PHSC/PHYS 301. Meteorology
Three hours lecture; two hours laboratory (4).

Prerequisites: PHYS 111  or PHYS 221

Basic principles of meteorology, including earth's atmosphere, insolation, humidity, adiabatic processes, large-scale circulation of the atmosphere, mid-latitude weather and violent weather phenomena. Climatology also studied.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The major topics covered in this course are those considered in most recently published meteorology texts for a one or two semester introductory course in meteorology. A text selected will include the following topics, although not always in the chapter order as indicated. Additionally, a workbook or laboratory manual will be used to supplement and reinforce learning from the text and lecture.

Topics covered in Physical Science 301:

1. The Atmosphere

        a. Chemical Composition
        b. Vertical Structure
        c. Lapse Rates
        d. Instability

2. The Earth's Heat Budget

        a. Solar Radiation and the Atmosphere
        b. Solar Radiation and the Earth's Surface
        c. Radiation by the Earth
        d. Heating of the Atmosphere by Conduction and Convection
        e. The Greenhouse Effect

3. Atmospheric Moisture

        a. Humidity and Relative Humidity
        b. Evaporation and Condensation
        c. Cloud Formation and Cloud Types
        d. Forms of Precipitation

4. Large Scale Circulation of the Atmosphere

        a. The General Circulation

            1) Pressure
            2) Coriolis Effect

        b. Westerlies
        c. Waves in the Westerlies

5. Mid-Latitude Weather

        a. Air Masses
        b. Fronts
        c. Highs
        d. Lows
        e. Cyclic Storms - Formation, Evolution, and Movement

6. Violent Weather Phenomena

        a. Thunderstorms
        b. Tornadoes
        c. Hurricanes

7. Special Weather Phenomena

        a. Land and Sea Breeze
        b. Mountain and Valley Breeze
        c. Chinook Winds
        d. The Bora

8. Observations of Weather Variables

        a. Temperature and Thermometers
        b. Pressure and Barometers
        c. Wind and Anemometers
        d. Relative Humidity and Psychrometers
        e. Precipitation
        f. Observing Projects

9. Analysis of Weather Information

        a. Preparation of Weather Maps
        b. Reading of Weather Maps
        c. Prediction of Weather

10. Climate Controls: Survey

        a. Thermal Control

            1) Heat Balance
            2) Heat Transfer

        b. Dynamic Control
        c. Surface Control

            1) Land and Water
            2) Large Mountain Ranges

11. World Climate

        a. Surface Winds
        b. Surface Pressures
        c. Upper Winds
        d. Surface Temperature
        e. Precipitation

12. Climate of Selected Areas

        a. Equatorial Zone

            1) Two Rainy Seasons
            2) One Rainy Season

        b. Tropics

            1) Monsoon
            2) Trade Winds

        c. Continental Climate

            1) Western Edge: Subtropics
            2) Western Edge: Higher Latitudes
            3) Continental Interior-Mid-and-High Latitudes
            4) Northeastern U.S.

13. Climate and the Earth's Surface

        a. Influence of Mountain Ranges
        b. Influence of Bodies of Water
        c. Influence of Forests and Vegetation
        d. Influence of Cities


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Physical Science 301 will be based largely on the material in the text selected and augmented by the supplementary workbook or laboratory manual. A basic knowledge of algebra is assumed. Physics and chemistry concepts utilized in the course will be introduced as needed. The course is taught as a lecture/activity course. Students will collect and analyze data. Questions and class discussion are encouraged throughout the course.


Goals and Objectives of Course

To build a knowledge base about the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere, and how the atmospheric components interact. Learning objectives of individual chapters or topics are formulated to achieve this goal (see F.)


Assessment Measures

Student success is based on their performance on tests (two), a final exam (not comprehensive), workbook or laboratory manual completion, and collection and utilization of daily pertinent weather data.


Other Course Information




September 24, 2001 - Reviewed by Walter S. Jaronski, Chair