Atmospheric Turbulence

METEO 554 – Atmospheric Turbulence

Spring 2019 Syllabus 

Classes: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:05 – 1:20 pm, 212 Hammond Building 

Prof. Ying Pan
Office: 521 Walker               
Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 4:30 – 5:30pm, or by appointment 

Course Description:  This course provides a fundamental understanding of the physics of turbulent flows. The focus is on dynamics of turbulent flows in general, although some applications to the atmospheric boundary layer and quasi-geostrophic turbulence will be discussed. The subjects include: Reynolds averaging and closure problem, turbulent kinetic energy and vorticity dynamics, turbulent boundary layers, spectral dynamics and implications on experimental data analysis, energy cascade and phenomenological theories, large-eddy simulation, and 2D turbulence. 

Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses:  Prerequisites: Meteo 520 (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics). You need a good understanding of tensor calculus and index notation, kinematics of fluid motion, and conservation equations. Enrollment 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: If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then consult with the instructor. 

Recommended References:  There is no textbook or formal reading assignments. I recommend four books that I consider appropriate to complement the material that will be discussed in class (in no particular order):

  1. Turbulence in the Atmosphere by John C. Wyngaard (2010)
  2. Turbulence: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers by Peter A. Davidson (2015/2004)
  3. Turbulent Flows by Stephen B. Pope (2000)
  4. Atmospheric Boundary Layer Flows by J. C. Kaimal and J. J. Finnigan (1994) (An online version is available for Penn State students for free,

I strongly recommend that you own one or two of the book above. I will briefly discuss the strengths of each book in the first class. You are welcome to stop by my office to flip through the pages of the first three books to see which ones fit your style and interests best. Hard copies of the first three books are on course reserve at the Penn State EMS library (105 Deike). 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 website:  The instructor will use Canvas to communicate with the class electronically. Canvas will also be used to post announcements, assignments, and a course schedule with specific topics. 

Grading Policy:  The weighting of the components of your course grade is as follows: 30% homework, 30% exams, 40% final project. The final grade will be based on a standard grading scale à  A: 93-100%, A-: 90-92%, B+: 87-89%, B: 83-86%, B-: 80-82%, C+: 77-79%, C: 70-76%, D: 60-69%, F: 0-59%. There will be no grade curving. 

Homework:  Homework assignments will be given bi-weekly on Thursday and due on the Thursday the week after the next week at the beginning of class, and must be turned in directly to the instructor. Late homework (up to 24 hours late) will be accepted with a 25% penalty and must be turned in directly to the instructor. Homework assignments are equally weighted. 

Exams:  There will be two exams throughout the semester. The first exam is tentatively scheduled for 12:05-1:20 PM, February 26(during class on Tuesday). The second exam is scheduled during the finals week. The exams are not cumulative. The weighting of each exam in your final grade depends on your exam score. Your highest scoring exam will be worth 20% of your final grade, and your lowest scoring exam will be worth 10%. The exams are close book and close notes, but you are allowed to bring a self-hand-written cheating sheet (one-page A4, two sided). 

Final Project:  The final project consists of a 15 to 20 minute talk during the week on April 15-19 on a subject to be agreed upon between student and instructor. Please note that your final project cannot have any relation to your research. The goal is for you to learn something completely new to you. You can choose from several project types: applying existing techniques to new datasets, exploring simple “toy” models, biography study, and literature review. I will provide detailed description of each of the project types in the first class. You need to email me the theme for your final project and the main references (one or two) you are planning on using by Thursday, January 31. 

Academic integrity:  Academic honesty is required and expected in this class. This course follows the Students in this class are expected to write up their homework assignments individually, to work on their final projects on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations. Class members may work on the homework assignment in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately. Students are not to copy exam answers from unauthorized source material. Students are also not to copy exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own. Students may not plagiarize text from papers written by others. Students who do not abide by these rules will receive at least a 0 on the assignment/quiz/exam and may well receive an F or XF in the course. If in doubt about how the academic integrity policy applies to a specific situation, students are encouraged to consult with the instructor. 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 Office for Disability Services (ODS) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services 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 based on the documentation guidelines 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. 

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 final projects. 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 and Family Services 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. 

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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 will be posted to the course website on Canvas.