Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval


Department or Program: Geoscience

Course Number: Geoscience 115

Course Title: Meteorology

Catalog Description:

Study of Earth's dynamic weather system including atmospheric structure, composition, and processes: origin and development of storms and related phenomena. Lecture and laboratory. Offered yearly.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2 Yes


This is a new course proposal _____. (If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4.)

Department Contact Person for this course: Dr. Dennis Battaglini


The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in (select one area only):


Course Requirements

A. Basic Skills: (October 4, 2000)

______ 1. College Reading and Writing

______ 2. Oral Communication

______ 3. Mathematics

______ 4. Physical Development and Wellness

B. Arts & Sciences Core: (November 1, 2000)

______ 1. Humanities

___X__ 2. Natural Science

______ 3. Social Science

______ 4. Fine & Performing Arts




C. Unity and Diversity: (January 17, 2001)

______ 1. Critical Analysis

______ 2. Science and Social Policy

______ 3. a. Global Perspectives

______ b. Multicultural Perspectives

______ 4. a. Contemporary Citizenship

______ b. Democratic Institutions

Flagged Courses: (February 14, 2001)

______ 1. Writing

______ 2. Oral

______ 3. a. Mathematics/ Statistics

______ b. Critical Analysi


Approval/Disapproval Recommendations


Department Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______


Chairperson Signature_______________________ Date ______


Dean's Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved ____* Date:______


Dean's Signature_______________________ Date______

*In the case of a Dean's recommendation to disapprove a proposal a written rationale for the recommendation to disapprove shall be provided to USS


USS Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______


University Studies Director's Signature_______________________ Date ______


A2C2 Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved_____ Date ______


A2C2 Chairperson Signature_______________________ Date ______


Faculty Senate Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______


FA President's Signature_______________________ Date ______


Academic Vice President's Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______


VP's Signature_______________________ Date ______


President's Decision: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______


President's Signature_______________________ Date ______






The purpose of the Natural Science requirement in the University Studies program is to provide students with the tools to understand and be able to apply the methods by which scientific inquiry increases our understanding of the natural world.

GEOS 115 is a 32-student introductory general-education 4-credit lecture-laboratory section. The course addresses the major themes and outcomes of the Natural Science category.


These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

  1. understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences;
  2. Meteorology is a course that lends itself to using real-time data, and daily current events that are intrinsically interesting to the general population. Throughout the course and labs, students are given many problems that are also perfect for utilizing the scientific method.

    Each day typically begins with a 5-minute outdoor session, where observations are made that relate to the day's objectives. Also, following that session students are shown public domain, current weather charts via the Internet. These two experiences are used for collaborative theory building or for verification of theories already presented. Anomalies, between theory and observation have to be accounted for so either the theory is accepted or denied with the set of data.

    In addition, students are presented with current scientific programming from educational television to show and emphasize how the real meteorologist actually works out the details of a theory and the details of how the data is collected.

  3. apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural sciences;
  4. Throughout the semester, students are presented with realistic problems in Meteorology. Students are challenged to apply concepts learned in class to solve these problems and make predictions about atmosphere features and processes. Problem-solving activities range from short, in-class questions, to problem-sets assigned as homework, to laboratory. The problems are necessarily simplified when compared to those that face practicing meteorologists today because this is an introductory general-education course with no prerequisites (particularly in mathematics and physics). However, given the level of the course, they are realistic problems that raise students’ awareness of issues relevant to the discipline. Students are additionally asked to solve problems on exams.

  5. use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in natural science;
  6. Students are given regular problem sets in this course, that require them to work with simple mathematical relations to chart atmospheric maps. These maps are then compared with the sophisticated ones done by computer algorithms and professionals. There is usually enough similarity in the chosen projects, that students gain a sense of confidence in how the system works. However, students also get a dose of humility on how complex the system can be to get that last 30% of accuracy.

    In addition to mathematical reasoning, students are asked to make almost daily use of inductive reasoning to solve realistic problems related to Meteorology. After learning about atmosphereographic processes, students are presented with real data and observations from the atmosphere, often times from the web. They are then asked to think through solutions based on these observations and processes.

  7. engage in independent and collaborative learning;
  8. Students engage daily in short collaborative problem-solving activities. This happens throughout the instructor's class and especially during the laboratory sessions. It is always the "team answer" rather than the individual answer that is fostered. The collateral benefit of this type of participation is that students get comfortable sharing and publicly arguing theories and points of view. Also, students are encouraged to work the computer tutorials and problems as partnerships. Independent learning is ensured by the more typical assigned problem sets, quizzes, and in-class exams.

  9. identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to natural science;

Students in meteorology will identify, find, and use the tools of information science relating to meteorology. Individual and group assignments are made that require students to use the web and library databases to research selected problems and to prepare short reports on the results of their work.


f. critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information; and

Students in this course are presented large quantities of data relating to various meteorological events. Some of these data are potentially conflicting. Students must sort through the information, and by applying the scientific method, come to a reasonable interpretation of the data. Their predictions are checked against those of the "experts" and conflicting data are evaluated to give students a better sense of how scientific data are processed.

  1. recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.

One of the main elements of each class and therefore of this course is to help students recognize and correct the misconceptions they hold regarding the science of meteorology. In the context of this course, misconceptions addressed range from helping students recognize science (meteorology) versus pseudoscience (folklore), to helping students understand the causes of the weather phenomena. Discrepant demonstrations are used whenever possible to force students to recognize and confront their misconceptions. These are followed by class activities designed to help students overcome and replace these misconceptions with accurate representations of scientific concepts. This methodology of teaching is in resonance with the steps used in "constructive theory" of learning.



Courses that satisfy the laboratory requirement in the Natural Sciences will additionally provide students the opportunity to practice scientific inquiry through hands-on investigations and to analyze and report the results of those investigations.

The course syllabus indicates the range of topics covered. Each laboratory exercise is either designed to verify a current theory, or create a raw theory from actual data. All labs are designed to give students the opportunity to engage in hands-on investigation of a variety of topics in meteorology. Each laboratory exercise asks students to investigate and collect data, and then to interpret their results in the context of course material. Their final results are reported in a variety of ways, including written reports, completion of data analysis sheets, and short interpretations of spreadsheets.







Dr. Dennis Battaglini

PA 111 457-5262



Description and purpose

Meteorology is a four-credit introductory –level course that satisfies the university studies laboratory requirement in the natural sciences. Each student studying meteorology will gain an understanding and awareness of the complexity and inter-relatedness of processes that affect the atmosphere, and how these atmosphere processes interact with the oceans to affect the weather and climate of the entire planet.

University Studies Outcomes

The purpose of the Natural Science requirement in the University Studies program is to provide students with the tools to understand and be able to apply the methods by which scientific inquiry increases our understanding of the natural world. These courses include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

a. understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences;

b. apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural sciences;

c. use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in natural science;

d. engage in independent and collaborative learning;

e. identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to natural science;

f. critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information; and

g. recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.

Courses that satisfy the laboratory requirement in the Natural Sciences will additionally provide students the opportunity to practice scientific inquiry through hands-on investigations and to analyze and report the results of those investigations.

Course activities described throughout the remainder of this syllabus will be coded to the above list of outcomes by the corresponding letter. These outcomes will be integrated throughout course content—each new topic will be presented in a manner in which the student will be able to understand and apply the methods by which scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences, using inductive reasoning or mathematics (outcomes a-c). Common scientific misconceptions will be identified at the start of each topic, and class material will be directed toward correcting those misconceptions (outcome g). You will be asked to work collaboratively on certain in-class activities and independently on homework and exams (outcome d). In-class and homework assignments will require that you work with the textbook, library resources, the Internet, and other source to critically evaluate scientific information as it relates to Meteorology (outcomes e, f). You are also required to attend weekly lab meetings. During those meetings, you will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on scientific investigation of atmospheric phenomena, and will be required to analyze and report the results of your investigations (laboratory outcome).

The four major goals of the course are listed below and are followed by example objectives for the first four days of class. There are similar objectives for all of our daily lessons.

I. Goals

  1. By the end of the first week, each student will have a working knowledge of how the wind moves around weather areas and how weather patterns move across the U.S.
  2. By the end of four weeks, each student will be able to go outside and with a few observations be able to predict the weather for the next 12-24 hours with a 70% accuracy.
  3. By the end of 15 weeks each student will be able to describe the forces of nature that determine the various weather elements and relate those forces to the pertinent .
  4. Given a current weather map and/or upper atmospheric charts, the student will be able to predict at least 5 of the 7 main weather elements and predict the weather for the following 24 hours.


Sample Objectives

Day 1.

Given the exercise from the lab manual the student will go outside and in pairs identify in subjective terms at least 5 of seven weather elements that can be observed.

• The student will associate the observations with the daily video showing the Weather Channel surface map and the distributed surface map .

• The student will name the direction of wind as from where the wind is originating by direction.

• The student will associate high pressure with fair weather and low pressure with cloudy, humid pressure and identify humid air as heavier than dry air.




Day 2

Given 3 sequential and contiguous daily surface charts, and using the station model found in the text, the student will be able to verify with chart data and outdoor visual observation the following: wind direction, wind speed (qualitatively), prevailing wind directions, movement around a high and low cells, and predict weather tomorrow based on the three charts.

• The student will identify the names of the atmospheric layers from troposphere through stratosphere and state the thermal properties of each layer.

• The student will identify the two most abundant permanent gases of the atmosphere and the two most abundant variable gases of the atmosphere.

• The student will identify the role that ozone plays in the upper and lower atmosphere.

Day 3

The student will define the terms: meteorology, mass, force, pressure, density, humidity, lapse rate and state the lapse rate in degrees Celsius/kilometer.

• The student will identify the basic working mechanisms in an aneroid and mercuric barometer.

• The student will know the sea level pressure in inches of mercury and millibars.

Day 4

The student will rank order by size all type of storms.

• The student will identify cold air aloft with lower pressure than warm air aloft and be able to distinguish what the surface pressures of each column would be under these conditions.


The student will have all Assigned Review Questions answered correctly.


Logistics and Policies

This course is designed to stimulate and challenge your thinking (outcomes a, b, c, f, g). There are no prerequisites for this course. If you can balance your checkbook, you can do all the math that will be required (outcome c). You are expected to understand and apply fundamental concepts (outcomes a, b, c, e, f, g), rather than to simply memorize information, on exams. You should strive to achieve as complete and sound a scientific interpretation as possible, by trying to integrate information across discrete chapters of the text.

Because scientific understanding does not usually progress in a vacuum—it is through discussions and arguments with colleagues that most advances stem—you are encouraged to work in groups and to discuss your ideas and to work through confusing concepts with your classmates. One of the best ways to study and understand and learn is to form a small study group—quiz one another. Make up questions that you think will be on the exam, and be certain you can answer them. If you can accurately explain a concept to your peers, then you can feel comfortable that you understand it. If you’re confused in doing this, you’re likely to be confused about the material. (outcome d)

Class attendance is essential for success. You are responsible for knowing what is covered and assigned in class regardless of whether or not you are present. Assignments will not be accepted on papers torn out of notebooks; all assignments must be neat, legible, and on paper with clean edges. A lecture will not be repeated to you during office hours simply because you chose not to attend class. Videos shown in class will not be made available outside of class. Attendance and participation will affect the outcome of your final grade.

Reading and study assignments are as scheduled below. Any changes in the assignments will be announced prior to the day they are due. It is assumed that the student will come to class prepared to answer the assigned questions regarding the material. Think of these questions as the objectives to be learned for the examinations.

The instructor will utilize class time by (1) demonstrating concepts covered in the reading material, (2) showing relevance of the concept to meteorology, (3) demonstrating problem solving techniques, and (4) answering questions from class.

In addition to the above, the instructor will call on students to create theories and answer questions regarding the topic of the day. The purpose of these questions will be to increase the student's ability to create informed opinions regarding scientific subject material, i. e., to increase the student's scientific literacy. Mathematical discourse will be kept to a minimum but it is assumed that the students have had at least one year of algebra and also are familiar with the metric system.

Cheating of any kind will result in a score of zero for that exam or assignment (which cannot be dropped in the computation of your final grade), and you will be reported to university authorities. If you discuss an assignment with someone else, you are both expected to write up your answers individually and in your own words. It is a violation of academic honesty (in other words, cheating) to turn in answers copied from another students paper, even if you worked together to achieve the answer!


Guidelines for surviving university studies geoscience courses at WSU: Here is some advice and some observations about how to achieve at your highest academic level in geoscience university studies courses.


Arrive on time! The first five minutes of class are often the most important part of the entire lecture. I usually use them to discuss how the day’s topics fit into the broader goals of the course, and where the course is headed in the next few lectures. Important logistical information like homework assignments and items that will and won’t be on exams, are often discussed here as well. Everyone is unavoidably late now and then, but my experience is that most students who consistently arrive a few minutes late for the lecture also receive a poor final grade in the course.


Assignments- The course outline summarizes readings in the textbook. Assignments should be read before coming to class, so that more effective listening, individual and group participation, and note-taking can take place. Following class, notes should be reviewed together with careful re-reading of the assignments. If this is done on a regular basis, performance will be enhanced. Classroom sessions will be more meaningful and discussion will be possible. Assignments will not generally be announced. You are responsible for following the course outline.


Use email often if you have access to it. Get access to it if you don’t have it yet. Electronic mail has become the basic means of communication among scientists. You’ll find that I answer most email messages and queries within minutes. Don’t hesitate to ask questions this way. My email address is:


Study for the exams mainly from your lecture notes. The lectures, labs, and book all cover somewhat different topics, at different levels of detail. It would be silly if it were otherwise: why do the same thing three times? My lectures excerpt that portion of the book that I feel is most important for the course. The main purpose of the book is to allow you to hear things in a different voice, quietly, at your own pace, to help you figure out puzzling things from the classes. You will receive a handout that provides suggestions for good note-taking in this course.


Consultation - I will be available for consultation throughout the semester and you are urged to keep in touch, especially if you are having difficulty. Office hours are posted on my door (PA 111). If these hours are in conflict with your schedule, please make other arrangements with me. My telephone extension is 5262 and e-mail is


Participation in lab and exams - Students are expected to attend and participate in class and lab. Exams are announced well in advance and students are obliged to take tests at the scheduled times. The obvious reasons for the exam policy are for fairness to the entire class. A penalty of a 10% per late day will be deducted from the score of those who have unexcused absences.


Absences - Examples of unexcused absences include but are not limited to: attendance at weddings, convenient rides home, oversleeping, un-preparedness. Examples of excusable absences include verifiable illness, and family emergency. Prior notice may be given by calling the secretary at 457-5260 or to the instructor at 457-5262. You must take the test the following weekday of the emergency day or the deduction penalty goes into affect. If you are in doubt of the status of a pending absence, discuss the matter with the instructor prior to the test date.


Honesty - Dishonesty on a test or assignment constitutes forfeiture of that test grade. During testing times students are expected to sit as far from neighbors as possible and to keep their answers secure.



Your grade will be determined by the percent of correct responses on four exams. The exams will be multiple choice and/or short answer questions. One of these tests will be the final exam and will cover the material covered since the previous exam. The grades are determined by a percentage of correct responses based on a number half way between the best score (omitting any extremes) in the class and the total possible. For example, if your score was 72 out of 100, while the best score in class was 92 out of 100, the base would be 96 (half way between 92 and 100) and your grade would be 72/96 =75, which translates into a letter grade of C.

90-100 = A

80-89 = B

70-79 = C

60-69 = D

0 -59 = E



METEOROL0GY TODAY by C. Donald Ahrens 6th Ed.


EXERCISE MANUAL METEOROLOGY by Robert A. Paul, 2nd Ed. 1996



Tentative Schedule & Assignments: Meteorology: Spring, 2000

Version 5

R means Review questions

E means Exercise questions

Pr means Problem questions

Professor will discuss questions when each chapter is finished.

Your Study Goals: Know answers to assigned questions



Read Pages







Ch.1 pp. 1-7 Atmosphere

R 1-3; 7



No Lab



Ch. 1, pp. 8-17

R 10,11; 13-15; 17-18



Holiday-no class



Ch. 1, pp. 17-26. Bring L. M.

R 21-28; LM ex. 5.9 and 5.10



LAB -Cloud ID, Isopleths. Text pp.142-156 & LM ex. 1.1-1.6



Ch. 2 pp. 29-36 Energy

R 1-3; 5,6.




Ch. 2 pp.36-46

R 7,8,11,15,16.



Ch. 2 pp.46-52

R 21,22



LAB -Coriolis EffectText 283-292 and

LM ex. 7.11



Ch. 2 pp.46-52,continued

R 21,22




LAB -Seasons intro (take-home lab: on-going for several weeks)



LAB - Earth-Sun Rel.

L.M. Ch.3LM ex 3.1-3.3



Exam I, Chapter 1,2



Ch. 3 pp. 57-66

R 1-7




Ch. 3 pp. 66-82

R 9,12,13, 20-23



Ch. 4 pp. 87-95 Atm. Optics

R 1-7



LAB -Weather Maps

L.M. ex. 11.1, 11.2.



Ch. 4 pp. 96-107

R 8,10,11,14,16; T.Q. 1



Ch. 4 Demos. & Review Answers



Ch. 4 Demos. & Review Answers



Flex-day TBA



Ch. 4 Diffraction phenomena, review




Ch. 5 111-118 Humidity

R 2-4;6-8;10






LAB - Moisture in Atmosphere

L.M. ex. 8.7,8.9,8.11



Ch. 6 131-142 Condensation

R. 1,3,5.




Ch. 7 pp. 167-175 Stability

R 1-7



Ch. 7 pp. 175-185;

R. 8-10; 12, 14-16; 19, 20



Snowflake Results-"show and tell"

Snowflakes Due



Ch. 8 pp. 191-195 Precipitation

R. 1-4

SPRING BREAK March 5- March 9




Ch. 8 pp. 195-213

R. 9-14; 16-18



Exam III

CH. 3,4,5,6,7,8



LAB -Pressure

L.M. ex. 6.8 & Hand-out exercise



Exam Returned, Reviewed

WEEK #10



Ch. 9 pp. 218-233 Wind Forces

R. 1,4,5;6-8;11,12



Ch. 9 pp. 233-243

R. 14, 19-23



Lab Internet Web Sites

All due by (TBA)



Ch. 11 pp. 292-306

R. 5,6,7,14

WEEK #11



Ch. 12 pp. 311-322

R 2,4,5



CH. 12 pp. 322-332

R 12 e,g,h; 14-16



LAB Air Masses/ Fronts

LM Ch.10 .1-.6; Ch. 12 Text



Ch. 13 pp. 335-341

R 1-4

WEEK #12



Ch. 13 pp. 341-359

R 7,9,11,15



CH. 13.cont.



Exam IV

CH. 9,11,12,13



Ch. 14 pp. 362-376, Wx. Forecasting

R 2,5,6,7,9,13

WEEK #13



Ch. 14 pp. 376-389

R 14,17



Ch. 15 ThndrStrms &Trnadoes, pp.392-406

R 2,3,5,7,12,13.



LAB Weather Forecasting,



Ch. 15 Lightning, pp.407-411

R 14-18;

WEEK #14



Ch. 15 Tornadoes, pp.412-425

R 22,23,25; Q 4,7



Ch. 16 Hurricanes, pp.428-445,

R 1,9-15; 18,20



Conference-No Class



Conference-No Class

WEEK #15



Conference-No Class



Tornado/ Lightning Videos


LAB Static Electricity? or TBA


Review for Final

WEEK #16

Tuesday 10:30am Final