METEO 440W Davis SP2015

Principles of Atmospheric Measurements Instructor: Kenneth Davis Lecture: Tu 1:25-2:15pm, 126 Walker Building Lab: 2:30-5:30, either Tu, 126 Walker Building

Meteo 440W – Principles of Atmospheric Measurements

Syllabus, Fall 2005
Syllabus, Spring, 2015
Lecture: Tu 1:25-2:15pm, 126 Walker Building
Lab: 2:30-5:30, either Tu, 126 Walker Building
Class web page: Angel ( ).

Objectives for Meteo 440W:

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the principles underlying common physical and chemical measurements of the atmosphere.
  2. Students can demonstrate familiarity with how atmospheric observations are analyzed statistically.

Outcomes for Meteo 440W:

  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to take and analyze atmospheric observations.
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how precision, accuracy, and statistical analysis techniques are used to provide a description of the state of the atmosphere.
  3. Students can demonstrate the ability to write scientific reports summarizing atmospheric observations and the analyses of them.

Ken’s additional goals: Each student should:

  1. Gain hands-on experience with some of the concepts covered in the physical meteorology course sequence (Meteo 431, 436, 437, 454).
  2. Demonstrate expertise in applying the scientific method, in particular hypothesis testing and formulation, to problems in observational meteorology.


  • Kenneth Davis, Professor, Department of Meteorology
  • 512 Walker Building, 814-863-8601, 
  • Office hours: Tu 9-10 am; F 9-10 am. You are free to stop by my office outside of office hours, but to guarantee that I will be available call or email in advance. Sometimes meetings or travel interrupt my office hours. I’ll warn you in advance when this is the case, and provide alternative times. Never hesitate to ask to meet with me, or with the course TAs, or both. We’re here to teach and to help. 

Lab Instructors:

Hannah Halliday, Graduate Student, Department of Meteorology
418 Walker, .
Office hours: Monday, 2-4 pm.

Danny Brouillette, Graduate Student, Department of Meteorology
405 Walker,
Office hours: Friday, 9-11 am.

Prerequisites: Stats. Meteo 300, 431. 

Expectations and norms:

  • Please be on time for classes and labs. Lectures will set the stage for the labs. Labs require setup time and group work. Attendance is important. Warn your instructors (TA and lecturer) and your lab partners in advance if you have a conflict that might require that you miss a class or a lab session. You cannot turn in a lab if you do not attend the lab session without permission in advance from your instructor.
  • Turn in assignments on time. Late assignments will be penalized. Exceptions can be made for real conflicts if you contact Ken in advance.
  • In case of an emergency that makes you miss a lab or deadline, contact your instructors as soon as possible.
  • Active participation in class is encouraged. Questions and discussion, when constructive, are always welcome. Get excited. Experiment.
  • Take care. You will be working in a laboratory setting with equipment that is sometimes delicate and hard to replace. Your classmates cannot be replaced. Follow instructions, and ask if you are uncertain. 


The course will cover 6 laboratory exercises, one worksheet, several smaller writing assignments, a midterm exam (focused on scientific writing), and two full research reports. One research report will report the results of a highly structured, assigned lab and one will report the results of an independent project of your own design.


  • 6 basic laboratory reports (results, discussion): 43%
  • Research report practice assignments (writing): 2%
  • Full research report on assigned lab (content and writing): 25%
  • Midterm exam (writing): 10%
  • Final project report (content and writing): 20%
  • Grades will be 90-100% A, 80-89% B, 70-79% C, 60-69% D, below 60% F. I reserve the right to apply a curve and make this grading scale easier, but it will not become more difficult.

This formula might be altered slightly. Any changes will be announced.
Grading rubrics for all assignments will be posted in advance.


  • Lab manuals are posted on Angel. Any additional scientific literature will also be made available on Angel.
  • Joe Schall’s book, Style for Students, will be used as a resource for writing assignments. It is available online at no charge: .
  • You will need to use computing resources (either your own, the department’s or the college’s).
  • An Introduction to Error Analysis, by J. R. Taylor, 1982, University Science Books, is a handy resource for your future, but not required for the course. Your statistics book should also serve as a helpful reference. Keep it close at hand.

Academic integrity:

For information about the EMS Integrity Policy, which this course adopts, see:

Here’s a brief interpretation of that integrity policy, as it applies specifically to this course:  You may never copy answers from another person and present them as your own.  This applies to quizzes, exams, and problem sets.  You are allowed to discuss the problem sets with other students, but the work you turn in must be your own, in your own words.  Suspicion of copying on problem sets will result in an immediate 50% reduction for the first offense, and an F for the course on the second offense.  Cheating on exams or quizzes will result in an immediate F for the course.

Accommodations for students with disabilities:

The Office of Disability Services at requests and maintains disability-related documents; certifies eligibility for services; determines academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services; and develops plans for the provision of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services as mandated under Title II of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  A list of these ADA List of Services is provided at

Cancellations and delays. 

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State Live at and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUTXT sign up at .