METEO 300 Najjar FA14

Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science MWF 2:30-3:20pm (112 Walker) R 2:30-3:45 (358 Willard) Instructor-Dr. Ray Najjar


Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science

This four-credit course prepares you (the meteorology major) for your 400-level meteorology courses by laying a solid foundation in the application of physical, chemical, and mathematical principles to a broad range of atmospheric phenomena. You will be introduced to fundamental concepts and applications of atmospheric thermodynamics, radiative transfer, atmospheric chemistry, cloud microphysics, atmospheric dynamics, and the atmospheric boundary layer. These topics are covered broadly but in enough depth to introduce you to the methods atmospheric scientists use to describe and predict atmospheric phenomena. The course is designed to be taken by sophomore meteorology students as well as by students in related disciplines who have an adequate mathematical and physical background.


Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 2:30-3:20 PM (112 Walker);
Thursday, 2:30-3:45 (358 Willard).


Raymond Najjar (pronounced NAY-jar), Professor, Department of Meteorology
Office: 522 Walker Building  Phone: 814-863-1586  


Office hours:

Mon. 3:30-5:00 PM; Tues. 2:30-5:00 PM; Wed. 10:00-11:00 AM; Thurs: 10:00 AM - noon; Fri. 10:00-11:00 AM; or by drop-in or appointment. 


Both are grad students in the Department of Meteorology: Justin Schulte and Seth Saslo. Contact information and office hours will be provided shortly.


Prerequisite or concurrent: Math 230 (Calculus and Vector Analysis) or Math 231 (Calculus of Several Variables); Prerequisite: Phys 211 (Mechanics) and Chem 110 (Chemical Principles I). Policy: Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period after being informed in writing by the instructor (see: ). 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 ( ). 


Lectures will be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The recitation period will be on Thursday afternoon and will be used to work on a detailed exercise that is generally not collected or graded, though sometimes parts of it may get added to the next homework assignment.


Homework assignments will be given every Wednesday (except during exam weeks) and due on the following Wednesday at the beginning of class. Late homework will not be accepted unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness) and prior approval has been granted. Homework assignments are equally weighted. Homework will be graded by the TAs and returned on the following Monday.

TEXTBOOKS: Required:

J.M. Wallace and P.V Hobbs (2006) Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Academic Press, 483 pp., ISBN 0-12-732951-X; Strongly recommended (needed for Meteo 421): J. R. Holton and G. J. Hakim 2013. An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, 5th Edition, Elsevier Academic Press, 532 pp., ISBN 978-0-12-384866-6. Both texts are on reserve in the EMS library. Readings are assigned for each topic as shown in the detailed syllabus. Finish the week’s readings by Friday so that you can complete an online quiz (see below) on Friday or Saturday. Taking notes on the readings and working out derivations with a pencil and paper will help you retain the material.


There will be weekly equally weighted quizzes given online (via Angel) no later than Thursday to be completed by Friday, except during exam weeks. About 10-20 multiple choice questions will be given on the readings and some lecture material. These quizzes are open book but they must be taken alone. You will be given 45 minutes to take each quiz. 


There will be two mid-terms and a final. All exams will be closed book with no crib sheets or calculators allowed. You are expected to be able to do simple arithmetic (include manipulating powers of 10) to 1 or 2 significant figures. The first two exams are scheduled for September 18 and October 30 (both during the Thursday recitation period). The final exam is not cumulative but will be a little longer. Details on time and location will be given to you as soon as I know them. We will have a review session during the class period just before the exam.


A: 92-100%; A-: 88-91%; B+: 84-87%; B: 80-83%; B-: 75-79%; C+: 71-74%; C: 63-70%; D: 50-62%; F: <50%. Weighting: 15% homework, 10% quizzes, 45% mid-terms, 30% final. 5% extra credit is based on my subjective assessment of the effort you demonstrate to me and the TA in class and during office hours. 


I expect all submitted work to be your own. Feel free to discuss homework assignments with others, but never ever (I really mean it) copy another’s work. Homework is not a collaborative project. If it appears that there is copying on a homework assignment, I will begin the formal Disciplinary Action Procedure as outlined by our college. The sanction for a first offense will be a zero on the assignment. For a second offense, a sanction may be as severe as failing the course. For details see


I expect you to attend all lectures and recitation periods. I realize that there may be emergencies and other extenuating circumstances that prevent this. If possible, let me know ahead of time by email if you are going to miss a class. If you do miss a class, get notes from a fellow student rather than emailing me “what did I miss?”


Please silence your cell phone in the classroom and do not use it. 


I will be in my office during the hours listed above specifically to answer your questions. Exceptions will occur due to unavoidable meetings, illness and travel. I am often available outside of office hours, so please feel free to call or stop by my office at any time. If I am available, I will be happy to talk with you. You can guarantee seeing me outside of office hours by making an appointment. During office-hour visits, please silence your cell phone and do not use it.


I will use Angel to communicate with the class electronically, though I will always send a copy to your PSU account, and I would like you to do the same if you send me an email through Angel. I will also use Angel to post assignments, handouts, quizzes, exam answer keys, past exams, and visuals that I show in class.


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) Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus : . For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site : . 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 : . If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. 


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 (to sign up, please see ).


  1. Introduction and overview
  2. Atmospheric Thermodynamics
  3. Cloud Microphysics
  4. Atmospheric Chemistry
  5. Radiative Transfer
  6. Atmospheric Dynamics
  7. The Boundary Layer


  1. Demonstrate familiarity with the application of calculus to provide a quantitative description of atmospheric phenomena
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the application of basic physical laws to provide a detailed explanation for the development and evolution of atmospheric phenomena at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.


  1. Students can demonstrate a broad knowledge of atmospheric dynamics, atmospheric thermodynamics, atmospheric chemistry, and physical meteorology as preparation for taking other required and elective meteorology courses.
  2. Students can demonstrate the ability to solve basic analytical problems in the fundamental areas of the atmospheric sciences.