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Although AOSS 202 is offered through the College of Engineering, the course is approved by LS&A to earn LS&A credits and may be used to meet Natural Science distribution requirements. Other Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences courses are listed in the College of Engineering Bulletin, and in the Time Schedule as part of the offerings of the College of Engineering in the AOSS subsection and may be elected by LS&A students as a part of non-LS&A course work. These other courses do not help meet LS&A distribution requirements. Students who have a serious professional interest in the field should consult the department (2443 Space Research Building, 764-3335).
AOSS 202. The Atmosphere.
Prerequisites & Distribution: (3). (NS). (BS). May not be repeated for credit.
Course Homepage: No homepage submitted.
This course has the mission of providing an introduction to
the science of weather analysis and forecasting. Lectures and
textbook provide background information on the physics of the
atmosphere to support learning through applied problem solving
outside of class. The course builds through a series of steps
toward a period of hands-on weather forecasting and assessment.
METEOROLOGY TODAY (6th Edition)
by C. Donald Ahrens
Hour Exam #1,15%
Hour Exam #2, 15%
Final Exam, 30%
(roughly weekly), 40%
- The Origins of the Atmosphere:
The course begins with the formation of the Earth. How was it
that the earth's atmosphere first formed and then became the
air we now know and love?
- The Atmosphere's Energy Balance:
The variability of life
forms on the Earth, in fact the existence of life itself, depends
upon the type and amount of radiation received from the Sun. What are the characteristics of solar radiation and how is this
radiation modified by the Earth's atmosphere? How is the radiation
distributed over the Earth and how does this change over the
course of the year?
- Light and the Atmosphere:
Solar radiation passing through
the gases and particles of the atmosphere can be absorbed, scattered
and reflected. These processes are also wavelength dependent
offering rich colors and odd patterns. How are atmospheric optics
formed and what might they tell us about approaching weather
- Laws Governing the Atmosphere:
Even the atmosphere is constrained
by certain laws. What are the laws of the atmosphere and what
implication do they have on climate and weather forecasting?
How does wind start to blow in the first place? What happens
to air once it starts to move? How does the turning of the Earth
affect wind direction? How much does the surface slow the air
- The General Circulation of the Earth:
The general flow of
the atmosphere dictates where deserts and rain forests exist. This lecture investigates why.
- Airmasses and Weather Fronts:
The frontal systems so often
referred to by TV meteorologists are dividing lines between different
air masses. How are these air masses defined? How do fronts form
and why is so much precipitation usually associated with them?
How do they dissipate? What is the relationship between fronts
and the formation of low pressure systems? What's all this got
to do with the upper atmosphere?
- Surface Weather Maps:
The untold key to being a meteorologist
is threefold: first you must be able to read the weather codes
at weather stations; second, you must be able to draw contour
maps from that data; and, third, you must be able to sound calm
and confident even when you're frantic and confused. What is
the code? Where do the fronts go on the map?
- Upper-Air Charts:
Much of what happens at the Earth's surface
weatherwise is the result of processes occurring higher in the
atmosphere. How can we find out what is happening in the upper
atmosphere? What are the criteria for deciding that the atmosphere
is stable or unstable using this information?
- WEATHER FORECASTING:
So you think YOU can do better? Here
is your chance to shine as weather forecaster. Using knowledge
from the course you will be asked to forecast into the future.
- Weather Folklore:
Long before there were computers sailors
and farmers made forecasts based on relationships they deduced
from observation. What folklore do you know of? To what degree
can we support these relationships based on current scientific
- Cloud Seeding:
Sci-fi writers have for years glorified the
prospects of humans controlling the weather. What techniques
have been and are being used to stimulate/depress precipitation?
How successful have these efforts been? What are the prospects
for the future?
- Convection and Thunderstorms:
Some of the most dramatic atmospheric
phenomena are associated with convective storms. How do these
storms develop? Why are some severe and other mild? What's the
difference between a severe storm warning and a watch?
What causes hail to form in some thunderstorms?
What causes lightning and thunder in some thunderstorms?
- Aviation Weather:
Weather affects the aviation industry in
many ways. What is the clear-air turbulence that causes your
coffee to wind up in your lap? What is a microburst and why is
Probably the most dramatic atmospheric phenomenon
is the tornado. Why do they form? Where are they most apt to
form? Where should you go if one is sighted to either (1) seek
shelter or (2) get the best possible photograph of the inside
of the funnel cloud.
- Tropical Weather (Hurricanes):
The weather of the tropics
can be a beauty or a beast. How do tropical storms form? Why
do some become hurricanes? How well can we predict their movement?
How is tropical weather interconnected with weather in the mid-latitudes?
- El Niño/La Niña:
How is it that the water temperature off
the coast of Peru is related to the rainfall amount in California
and Australia? How well can we predict these features?
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