Syllabus, Fall 2019

Meteorology 454 - Micrometeorology

Lectures 1:25-2:15 MWF, 101 Walker

Class web page: 

Objectives:  This course will prepare you to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the principles determining the structure of microscale phenomena in the Earth’s atmosphere
  • demonstrate an introductory knowledge of the role of turbulence in the atmosphere

Outcomes:  By the time this class if over, you should have:

  • demonstrated knowledge of the differences between the structure of the daytime and nighttime, and terrestrial vs. marine atmospheric boundary layer.
  • interpreted and applied the equations describing the physics of the atmospheric boundary layer.
  • demonstrated knowledge of the exchanges of energy and momentum at the earth’s surface.
  • learned to describe and recognize, qualitatively and quantitatively the vertical profiles of air temperature, humidity, wind, passive scalars, and their turbulent fluxes in the atmospheric boundary layer.
  • demonstrated knowledge of the processes by which turbulence is created and destroyed in the atmosphere, and how the turbulent energy budget characterizes the boundary layer.
  • learned to describe and recognize, qualitatively and quantitatively, the dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere 


Kenneth Davis, Professor, Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science

512 Walker, 814-863-8601,

Office hours: Th 10am-11am; Fri 2:30-3:30pm.

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.  I will sometimes miss these hours due to travel.  I’ll give you as much warning as possible and find alternative hours.  I respond to email. 

Teaching Assistant:

Vikrant Sapkota,, 530 Walker.  Office hours, Th, 1-3pm, 511 Walker. 


Freshman physics, differential and integral calculus, introductory differential equations and statistics, thermodynamics (e.g. Meteorology 431), fluid mechanics/dynamic meteorology (e.g. Meteorology 421).  The course is calculus-based and is built upon the principles of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. The course is intended for upper-level undergraduate meteorology majors and other students in the physical sciences or engineering.  

Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be disenrolled according to Administrative Policy C-5 if they do not have the proper prerequisite override. Students who add the course after being disenrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct: 


Reading and some homework problems will be taken from An Introduction to Boundary Layer Meteorology by Roland Stull.  The book is available as a pdf through the university library system. 

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

Assignments and their intended purpose:

  1. Reading will be assigned and is best done in advance of the relevant lectures, and should also help with homework assignments. Do not worry if you don't understand everything the first time you read it. Ask questions in class or during office hours. Come back to the reading when doing homework.
  2. Homework assignments will focus on the core material that is being taught. I will design lectures around the problem sets, and the problem sets around the essential course units. Homework will be graded, but primarily for completion. Some portions of the homework may be graded more closely. This will be explained when assignments are given.
  3. Quizzes will test the most fundamental points of learning illustrated in the homework assignments. Quizzes cover all aspects of the homework. If you do the homework independently and well, the quizzes should be relatively easy.
  4. Exams will be comprehensive, but emphasize the topics covered since the last exam. Exams will reinforce and assess your cumulative understanding of the materials covered in class.
  5. Research projects will enable you to conduct and report on a scientific investigation into a topic in boundary layer meteorology. We will aim to conduct two research projects. 

Grading:  If grades run high, grades will be assigned on an absolute basis: 90% and above = A, 80-89 = B, etc.  I reserve the right to make this grading scale easier.  If assignments and exams prove more difficult than the scale above, I will curve the grades. The overall course grade will be weighted approximately as follows:

  • Homework assignments 8% (approximately 8 assignments)
  • Quizzes 40% (one per homework assignment)
  • Exams 30% (two exams, 15% each)
  • Research projects 22% (two projects)

The weighting might change as the semester develops.  If so, this will be discussed clearly in class in advance. 

Schedule with due dates, and list of class topics:

See additional documentation. 

Class Expectations and Norms:

  • Students are encouraged to participate actively in class. Attendance is expected.  Please let me know in advance if you know you will miss class.
  • Due dates are negotiable only if you have a good reason and give me advance notice. Assignments turned in late without advance approval will not receive full credit.
  • Assignments must be done individually. Collaborative discussion outside of class is allowed. 

Academic Integrity:

Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work the exams on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations.  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 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 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 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 

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.