Introductory Meteorology (section 1)

Meteo 003 – Introductory Meteorology (section 1)

Course Syllabus, Fall 2018 Semester 


Dr. Kevin Bowley, 619 Walker Building, 814-863-8253,

Office Hours: Tuesday 9:30-11:30 am 

Teaching Assistant

Christopher Hartman, 624 Walker Building,

Office Hours: Monday 2:00-4:00 pm 

Class Meeting Times & Location

Lectures: Monday & Friday 10:10-11:00 am, 112 Walker

Labs: Wednesday 10:10-11:00 am, 112 Walker

Course Description

The objectives of the course are for students to gain a better understanding of atmospheric structure and processes so they can better apply the weather information they encounter. Students will learn to read the sky so they can make their own short-term forecasts and adjust their behavior accordingly. When presented with a weather forecast containing caveats, they will have a better feeling for what controls the evolution of a developing system so they can understand why a certain degree of hedging is necessary. Students will be better able to assess the validity of the commonly expressed concerns about climate change and deteriorating air quality. The lecture, taught by an instructor, is supported by weekly labs that are co-taught by a student teaching assistant (GN) (BA). 

Required textbooks

A World of Weather: Fundamentals of Meteorology (w/ website) – 6th edition, Jon M. Nese, Lee M. Grenci, and David Babb.  

Available at the book store and online (

Reserve materials and location

A copy of the text book should be available on reserve in the Earth and Mineral Sciences Library (105 Deike Building) 

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 Care and Advocacy (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit 

Course Goals and Objectives

A survey course about the atmosphere and the weather phenomena that it produces, with a particular emphasis on making you a savvy consumer of weather and climate information, without the full physical and mathematical rigor. 

The goal is to build a solid understanding of the fundamentals of meteorology. Skill sets in which you will develop an understanding in will include, but not be limited to: climate change, severe weather, winter weather and hurricanes. 

Course Content (a more detailed schedule will be handed out with the syllabus and is available online):

  • Fundamentals of Meteorology, Radiation, Remote Sensing
  • Temperature, Air Masses, Fronts, Surface Pressure Systems
  • Upper Air Pressure Patterns, General Circulation, Stability
  • Winter Weather
  • Severe Weather: Thunderstorms, Tornadoes
  • Hurricanes
  • Climate Change 

Examinations and Grading

  • Examination of Knowledge I (September 26): 13%-17%*
  • Examination of Knowledge II (October 24) 13%-17%*
  • Examination of Knowledge III (Finals Week):20%
  • Quizzes (best 10 marks): 15%
  • Lab/homework (12 labs): 35%
  • Extra credit (up to): 10% 

* The better of your two midterms will carry more weight (17%) of your final mark than the other (13%). 

Course marks will be assigned as: A (93-100%), A- (90-92%), B+ (87-89%), B (83-86%), B- (80-83%), C+ (75-79%), C (70-74%), D (60-69%), F (0-59%). 

Examinations of Knowledge (Midterms - 30% of mark, Final - 20% of mark)

The midterms and final will consist primarily of multiple choice and short answer questions. The exams will only be marginally cumulative – just major concepts that are build upon themselves throughout the semester. But in general, exams will be largely non-cumulative.  The exams will be administered in class on Wednesday, September 26 and Wednesday, October 24.  

Make-ups may be scheduled at the instructor's convenience for excused absences.  The make-up should be taken before the scheduled exam time, if at all possible. Any make-up exams taken after the original exam has been handed back in class will be long answer/essay-based.   

The date and location of the final exam will be confirmed by the university sometime in September or October, and will be held in Finals Week (December 10-14). 

Quizzes (15% of mark)

Note that quizzes compose 15% of the final mark. They will generally be multiple choice, true/false, or (very) short answer questions that deal with the current material.  

Quizzes will either be in the Monday or Friday lecture period and will often (but not always) be announced one class prior to the quiz. These will be given at the end of the lecture period – you will turn them in on the way out of the classroom.  There will be 12-13 quizzes during the semester, and I will drop the lowest 2-3 quizzes at the end of the semester (your best 10 will count toward the final grade).  Because of this policy, makeup quizzes will not be allowed. 

Labs (35% of mark)

Laboratory (homework) assignments will generally be assigned on a Wednesday, and will be due the following Wednesday in class (e.g. a lab is assigned Wednesday, August 29th and is due Wednesday September 5). 

There will not be a lab assignment during the first week of the semester or during an exam week. Some Wednesday class periods are built for lab work, or getting an early start on the week’s assignment. Any lecturing done on a Wednesday will be in the first half of the class period, unless we need to play some significant ‘catch-up’. If you have any homework questions, or still need to start the assignment for the week, this is your chance to work on the assignment with myself and the TA available for hints and questions.  

Note also that the laboratory assignments are worth 35% of your total grade. If you do not consider yourself to be a good test-taker, this is your chance to positively affect your grade by completing the labs. Labs must be turned in by the end of the class period on Fridays to qualify for full credit, unless you get in contact with me beforehand for a valid extension.  

Late policy: Labs will lose 20% per day following the 11:00am deadline on Wednesdays.  For example, a lab turned in between 11:00 am Wednesday and 11:00 am Thursday will lose 20%, a lab turned in between 11:00 am Thursday and 11:00 am Friday will lose an additional 20% (40% total), and so on.  If you run into an emergency, email the TA or myself as soon as possible. Late labs can be placed into a folder on my door during typical office hours (between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday to Friday) or emailed to myself or the TA through Canvas.  Note that labs placed in the folder outside of typical office hours will be considered handed in on the next available day (e.g. a lab handed in overnight Thursday will be considered handed in at 8:00 am Friday). 

Attendance and Extra Credit

Abbreviated notes will be posted on Canvas but they in no way are meant as a substitute for regular attendance.  The moral - come to class.  That being said, if you are feeling ill, please stay home and take care of yourself!  Please contact me if you cannot make class due to illness to schedule a meeting to discuss the materials you’ve missed.letmein! 

Note, however, that 10% of extra credit is available, so if you miss a quiz or two or five, you shouldn't be worried as long as you’re willing to do a little extra work.  You will have two opportunities to earn extra credit, each worth 5%).

One source of extra credit is the highly recommended semester project.  This project is designed to raise your level of consciousness regarding the environment in which we live.  You will write a meteorological diary (how does the weather affect you?) which will be kept in a (recommended) 3-by-5 memo notebook.  Carry it with you, especially when you go outdoors and make at least three entries per week, but each day can count for no more than one entry.  Keep each entry relatively short, maybe filling one side of a 3-by-5 page, unless you just can't help yourself. Entries might cover interesting weather conditions of the day, a special meteorological phenomenon or "oddity," a weather reference from another course or a stapled-in copy of a weather cartoon or news report from that day about significant weather or a weather-related tragedy (with your personal comments).  Let it be personal, original and creative.  Simply, for example, stapling in the daily forecast or reporting the temperature will not earn you any credit.  There is a deduction for less than 50 entries and no additional credit for more than 50 entries, so plan on 50 good ones!  You’ll cover a greater range of weather if you plan to write one entry every other day- 3 to 4 per week. 

Another source of extra credit will be a weather forecasting contest later in the semester, which will be announced following the first exam. 

Academic Integrity 

Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually and to work the exams on their own.  Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately.  Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others.  Students who present other people's work as their own will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F or XF in the course.  Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy:, which this course adopts. 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. 

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy. 

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 Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources 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: 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. 


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 labs.  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:, 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: 

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 wellbeing.  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 at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395 Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400 Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741 

Syllabus Acknowledgement Form I ask that all students sign and return the Syllabus Acknowledgement Form ( acknowledgement form.doc) during the first week of the semester.  The form is appended to the back of the syllabus.

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts or through Canvas. 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. 

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40 ( To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period. It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion.  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. 

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made. 


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review some general Netiquette guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course. 

Disruptive Behavior

Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with Items 9 and 14 in the Student Code of Conduct


In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan (  In the event of an evacuation, we will follow posted evacuation routes and gather at the Designated Meeting Site.  Evacuation routes for all EMS buildings are available at  For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework.  For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website. 

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility. For additional information, see:

Disclaimer Statement

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 to the syllabus shall also be given to the student in written (paper or electronic) form.