Dynamic Meteorology

 METEO 521: Dynamic Meteorology

Spring 2019 Semester 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course introduces some of the important concepts in dynamic meteorology - provide a theoretical basis for understanding weather and climate. It does not cover the entire spectrum of atmospheric motion; this course focuses on large-scale atmospheric motion for which rotation and stable stratification are central. However, as the concepts to be covered in this course are fundamental to atmospheric motion, the same conceptual approach (e.g., scaling, adjustment, concept of balanced flows) can often be applied to other atmospheric phenomena at smaller scales.

Basic mathematics such as calculus, vector calculus, and partial differential equations will be extensively used.

TIME: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:35-11:50 AM.
PLACE: 218A Hosler Building.
INSTRUCTOR: Steven Feldstein
Professor, Department of Meteorology & Atmospheric Science
Office: 516 Walker Building
Phone: 814-865-7042
Office hours: TBA, or by appointment. 


POLICY: 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:

EXAMS: There will be two mid-terms and a final exam. Each mid-term will contribute 20%, and the final will contribute 30% to your final grade. The dates for the mid-term exams are in late February and early April. 

HOMEWORK:  Problem sets will be given about every two weeks. The problem sets will contribute 20% to your final grade. 

LAB PROJECT: Hand-on laboratory experiments can help us understand key concepts and theories that are unique to rotating fluids. Laboratory-experiment report and class presentation will contribute 10% to your final grade.

  1. The class will be divided into three groups. Each group will be comprised of 3 students. The experiments will take place in 529 Walker. Practice times are 4:00-5:00pm on the previous Thursday in 529 Walker. The following three experiments are to be performed:

Exp 1. Fronts, geostrophic adjustment
Exp 2. General circulation - Hadley Circulation
Exp 3. General circulation – Baroclinic Instability 

  1. Each group will practice the experiment of its choice prior to the class; perform the 
demonstration in front of the class; and explain what we are supposed to learn from the experiment. Each member of the group must participate in all of these three activities. In addition, each group is required to write a short report (2-3 pages long). This report may include (a) an experimental log which can supplement the log available on the “Weather in a Tank” web page (, (b) a discussion of what has been learned from the experiment, and (c) an observed analog of the experiment (e.g., examples from weather maps, analyses from the literature, etc.). In the report, briefly describe how each member of the group contributed to the report.
  2. Your credit will be given based on (a) clarity of demonstration, (b) clarity of explanations (i.e., what we are trying to learn from the experiment, and how this is related to the class material), and (c) the report.
  3. Time line: Let me know your choice of experiment (first come, first choice) and the members of your group by Jan 22.

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK: Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics. Vallis, 2017, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107065505 


  1. Atmosphere-ocean dynamics. Gill, 1983, Academic Press. Call#: GC190.G54 1982 (reserved)
  2. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. Pedlosky, 1986. Springer-Verlag. Call#: QC809.F5P43 1987 (reserved)

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

GRADES: A: 92-100%; A-: 88-91%; B+: 84-87%; B: 80-83%; B-: 75-79%; C+: 71-74%; C: 63-70%; D: 50-62%; F: <50%. 

CURVING POLICY: For the exams, a curve will be applied if the class average is below 80. 

LATE PENALTY: For homework assignments, a 10% penalty will be applied for each day. 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY POLICY: This course follows the 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." 

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 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 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: 

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 

PENN STATE E-mail: 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. 

CLASSROOM CELL PHONE POLICY:  Please silence your cell phone in the classroom and do not use it. 

COURSE WEB SITE: I will use Canvas to communicate with the class electronically, though I will always send a copy to your PSU account, and I would like you to do the same if you send me an email through Canvas. I will also use Canvas to post assignments, handouts, quizzes, exam answer keys, past exams, and visuals that I show in class. 

ACCOMODATIONS 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. 

CAMPUS EMERGENCIES: Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News (http:/ and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (to sign up, please see 

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. 

SYLLABUS: A detailed syllabus, with readings, due dates for homework, etc., is given separately. The abridged outline of topics is:

  1. Introduction
  2. Preliminaries
  3. Effect of rotation and stratification
  4. Gravity waves
  5. Vorticity and Potential Vorticity
  6. Simplified equations for ocean and atmosphere
  7. Instabilities
  8. Planetary boundary layer 

SYLLABUS AND PAPER ACKNOWLEDGMENT FORMS: In addition, the new recommendation from the college is that all students sign and return the Syllabus Acknowledgement Form during the first week of the semester. The College also recommends the attached Paper Submission Form as a way to have students take responsibility for papers/labs/homework done as part of group work.

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. 

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. 

NETIQUETTE: 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

TECHNICAL REQUIRMENTS: For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page (, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the ITS Help Desk ( 

Safety: 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 and 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:

Accessible Syllabus: Notes: Any syllabus posted online (e.g. a Word/PDF file or an online syllabus) should make destinations clickable links such as is done throughout this page. Also, in order to comply with Penn State Policy AD69(Accessibility of Penn State Web Pages,, PDF documents cannot be the sole source of presenting online information. Such documents include syllabi, homework assignments, and scanned notes.  

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.