METEO 597, Parameterization Schemes

Instructor: Dr. David Stensrud, Class meeting times and locations: TR 1:35 – 2:50 pm, 103 Walker Building

Course Number and Title: Meteorology 597, Parameterization Schemes 

Semester: Fall 2016 

Instructor: Dr. David Stensrud, 504 Walker,, Office Hours: Monday 11-12 am, Wednesday 1-2 pm, Friday 9-10 am, or by appointment 

Class meeting times and locations: TR 1:35 – 2:50 pm, 103 Walker Building

Course designation in curriculum: Graduate Elective 

Brief course description from University Bulletin: This course is designed for graduate students interested in numerical weather prediction.  The objective of this course is to provide the student with an overview of the assumptions used in the parameterization of sub-grid scale processes and how these assumptions may influence numerical forecasts of the weather.  Various well-known parameterization schemes will be reviewed and discussed in class. 

Prerequisites and concurrent courses: None 

Required textbook: Parameterization Schemes: Keys to Understanding Numerical Weather Prediction Models by David Stensrud.  A copy of the textbook is on reserve in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Library.  

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

Internet materials and links: Angel (

Course expectations: This course will help the student develop an improved understanding of numerical weather prediction model physical process parameterizations.  

Course Objectives:

  • Students can identify the most common approaches to physical process parameterization and recognize strengths and weaknesses to these approaches.

Course Outcomes:

  • Students can read the parameterization literature effectively, having a strong foundation in how these schemes operate and common assumptions.
  • Students can compare physical process parameterization schemes and understand similarities and differences.
  • Students can select schemes for use in numerical weather prediction and climate models wisely.

Course content:  

Weekly Topics to be addressed:

  • 22 August – introductions, need for parameterization, primitive equation model overview. 
    Read Chapter 1. 
  • 29 August – land surface parameterization
  • 5 September – land surface parameterization 
    Homework #1 – due Thursday 8 September, Chapter 2, questions 2, 3 and 4.
    Choose paper to review for class in consultation with Dr. Stensrud.  You will also present a summary of paper to the class. 
    Read Chapter 2.
  • 12 September – land surface and soil-vegetation-atmosphere parameterization 
    Homework #2 – due Thursday 15 September, Chapter 2, questions 6 and 7.
  • 19 September – land surface and soil-vegetation-atmosphere parameterization
    No class on Thursday 22 September.
    Homework #3 – due Tuesday 27 September, Chapter 3, questions 1, 2, 3 and 4.
    Read Chapters 3 and 4.
  • 26 September – turbulence closure
    Homework #4 – due Thursday 6 October, Chapter 5, questions 1 and 2.
    Make up class:  Wednesday 28 September 6-8 pm.
  • 3 October – planetary boundary layer parameterization
    Homework #5 – due Thursday 13 October, Chapter 5, questions 3 and 4.
    Read Chapter 5.
  • 10 October – convective parameterization
    No class on Tuesday 11 October
  • 17 October – convective parameterization
    Mid-Term Exam:  Wednesday evening 19 October, 7 pm start
    Homework #6 – due Thursday 27 October, Chapter 6, questions 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
    Read Chapter 6.
  • 24 October – microphysics parameterization
  • Homework #7 – due Thursday 3 November, Chapter 7, questions 1 and 2.
  • 31 October – microphysics parameterization
    Make up class:  Wednesday 2 November 6-8 pm.  Student paper summary presentations.
    Homework #8 – due Thursday 10 November, Chapter 7, questions 3, 4, and 5.
    Read Chapter 7.
  • 7 November – radiation parameterization
    No class on Tuesday 8 November
  • 14 November – radiation parameterization
    Homework #9 – due Tuesday 22 November, Chapter 8, questions 1 and 2.
    Read Chapter 8.
  • 21 November – Thanksgiving Break – no class this week
  • 28 November – cloud cover and orographic drag parameterization
  • 5 December – cloud cover and orographic drag parameterization
    No class on Tuesday 8 December.
  • 12 December – FINALS WEEK

Grading: The grading scheme for this course is: 45% problem sets, 15% mid-term exam, 15% final exam, 15% paper review and presentation, and 10% class participation.  Assuming 100 points total, students with 90 and above will get an A, 80 and above will get a B, and 70 and above will get a C.  See the instructor at least a week ahead of time if you have a conflict with an exam. 

Grading Policy: All assignments are due at the end of the class period on the day assigned. No credit will be given for late assignments.  Exceptions may be given for emergency situations after consultation with the instructor. 

Problem Sets: There will be a total of 9 problem sets assigned during the semester. Each problem set has been developed to expand upon topics covered in class and several of them will require the students to write computer programs. Since the instructor is familiar with the FORTRAN programming language, using this language in your programming assignments is encouraged, but not required. Assistance in writing code in other programming languages is not available.

Paper Review: Each student will choose a paper related to numerical weather prediction and/or parameterization and write a formal review of the paper. The journal article must be approved by the instructor in advance by 8 September. The written review should be no more than 2 pages in length. The student will also present a summary of the paper, including their overall evaluation of the quality of the paper, to the class.  These presentations will be conference style, so the student will have 12 minutes to summarize the work and 3 minutes for questions.  Presentations should be prepared using Microsoft Powerpoint and either email to Dr. Stensrud ahead of time or brought to class on a memory stick. 

Mid-term examination: A mid-term examination is scheduled for 19 October and will cover material presented during the lectures, reading assignments, and homework from the beginning of the semester through the material in Chapter 5. 

Final examination: A final examination is scheduled during finals week, and will cover all the material presented during the semester, although weighted towards materials covered since the mid-term. 

Class participation: Each student is expected to participate in class by attending lectures on time, asking questions, and answering questions from the instructor.

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.

Attendance: 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 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 and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

Assessment tools: For a summary of General and Final Examination Policies 44-10 and 44-20 and alternative assessment practices, please see Examination Policy Summary: and General and Final Exam Policies:

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.

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.

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 Angel and discussed in class. 

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