Mesoscale Meteorology



Mesoscale Meteorology (4 credits)
Fall Semester, 2020 


MWF, 10:30 AM –12:00 PM, Zoom and 126 Walker (previously 10:10 AM – 12:05 PM, 126 Walker)


Prof. Paul Markowski, 520 Walker, email:, phone (work): 865-9736, web: (Links to an external site.)

Teaching Assistant

Justin Stow, 530 Walker, email:; Office hours: Wednesdays, 2:30–3:30 pm, via Zoom (URL pending)

Office Hours

Thursdays, 3–4 pm, via Zoom ( (Links to an external site.)); the lab portions of the class periods are also a good time to chat with me

Required Textbook

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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, (Links to an external site.)). For additional needs related to socioeconomic status please visit (Links to an external site.).

Exam Policy

Students will be evaluated by way of three exams. The first two exams will be held during class the weeks of September 28 and November 2.  The third exam will be held during final exam week at the time scheduled for the class final exam. Except for illness, make-up exams will be conducted only for students who make arrangements with me prior to the scheduled exam time.

Grading Policy

Exams contribute 75% toward the final grade (the scores, ranked from best to worst, contribute 35%, 25%, and 15%).  Lab assignments contribute 20%.  Class participation contributes 5%.  

Lab Assignments

Students may collaborate on lab assignments, but the final product to be handed in must be your own work.  Approximately one hour will be devoted to lab work in most of the class periods.   Lab assignments typically will be due within a few days or up to a week after the initial date of assignment.  Technical accuracy, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and neatness will be considered in the lab grades.


Students who do not meet the prerequisites (METEO 411, 421, 431) may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period after being informed in writing by the instructor (see (Links to an external site.)). If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Stude nts who re-enroll after being dis-enrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct ( to an external site.).

Academic Integrity

Students in this class are expected to write-up their problem sets individually and to work the exams on their own. Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write-up their 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 well receive an F or XF in the course. Please see the Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy ( (Links to an external site.)), 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 at (Links to an external site.). For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( (Links to an external site.)).

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: (Links to an external site.). 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 (modified for Fall 2020)

Regular attendance is critical for building on the skills and knowledge developed throughout the class. Students who participate have a more complete understanding of the material presented and are more likely to succeed in the class. This is true whether your attendance is in person or remote.

Because of classroom size limitations, you will be asked to attend in person only on certain days. Everyone will participate remotely on Mondays. Those of you with last names beginning with the letters A-La (Team CAPE) will attend class in-person on Wednesdays; those of you with last names that begin with the letters Le-Z (Team HELICITY) will attend class in-person on Fridays. I have not yet decided if we will attempt to have students participate remotely on Wednesdays (Team Helicity) and Fridays (Team CAPE).

The attendance schedule is designed with health and safety of everyone in the class in mind, to ensure that we can maintain safe physical distancing during class time. You should not attend class on days that you are not assigned. Please stick to your scheduled days. This helps to maintain appropriate physical distancing and safety of in-person participants. Come on the day you are scheduled, wearing your mask appropriately (i.e., covering your mouth and nose). 
If you are not feeling well or if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, DO NOT COME TO CLASS. I cannot stress this strongly enough. We are counting on you to help contain the spread of the virus (and other illnesses) on campus by self-isolating if you have a fever, feel unwell, or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or is showing symptoms. If you are not in class on your assigned day, you may be contacted by the instructor or the TA to check up on you. Again, this is important in the event that we need to follow up on a potential infection.

You will be assigned a seat in the classroom. It’s important that you sit in your assigned seat for each class period you attend. This allows me to know quickly who is in class on their assigned day and who is not.  Physical attendance will NOT be used as part of the calculation of your course grade (although participation will). In the event that someone in the class contracts COVID-19, it’s critical to know who was in class with that person and how close they were seated to that person. For this reason, seats are assigned and attendance will be taken each class day. According to University guidelines, and because of the distancing procedures in place for in-person classes, if someone in the class tests positive, we will continue with our regularly scheduled classes.

Masks (new for Fall 2020)

We know from existing scientific data that wearing a mask in public can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Just as you’re expected to wear a shirt and shoes to class every day, everyone -- including the faculty -- is required to wear a face mask in University buildings, including classrooms and labs. You MUST wear a mask appropriately (i.e., covering both your mouth and nose) in the building if you are attending class in person. Masks have been provided for students, faculty, and staff, and everyone is expected to wear one while on campus or out in the community.

All students, faculty and staff are expected to maintain social distancing (i.e., maintain at least six feet of space between individuals) when possible. Seating patterns and attendance patterns, including assigned seating and closed-off desks/chairs/room sections, have been established to help allow for this distance for your safety. It is also important to follow related guidance communicated by the University and via public postings/signage related to directional traffic flow and maximum occupancy of spaces.

You are not permitted to consume food or drink in classrooms, except for water. If you must drink water, please be especially conscious of maintaining social distancing and minimizing the time your mask is moved aside. Or, better yet, use a straw. Cooperation from EVERYONE will help control the spread of the virus and help us get back to the previous version of campus life as quickly as possible.

Students with conditions that make it difficult to wear a mask or who choose not to wear a mask may not attend class in-person. This is to protect your health and safety as well as the health and safety of your classmates, instructor, and the University community. Anyone attending class in person without a mask will be asked to put one on or leave. Refusal to comply with University policies is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Students who refuse to wear masks appropriately may face disciplinary action for Code of Conduct violations. See details here: conduct/student-conduct/code-conduct (Links to an external site.).

Weather Delays

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News (Links to an external site.) and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: (Links to an external site.)). 

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 ( (Links to an external site.)) and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage (Links to an external site.)

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) (Links to an external site.): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses (Links to an external site.)
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 Accounts

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 (see (Links to an external site.)) to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

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.


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 (Links to an external site.) 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 (Links to an external site.)


In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan ( (Links to an external site.)). 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 (Links to an external site.). For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides (Links to an external site.).

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 (Links to an external site.) 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 (Links to an external site.)

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:

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.