Principles of Atmospheric Measurements

 Meteo 440W – Principles of Atmospheric Measurements

Lectures: M, W 8-8:50 am, Zoom
Lab: Tu/Th 2:30-5:30pm, Zoom / 126 Walker Building 

Course Description

The standard theories and practices used in measurement and analysis of atmospheric variables are surveyed in the lecture portion of the course. The laboratory portion of the course provides students hands-on experience with using standard and self-produced instruments to make reliable measurements and with analyzing meteorological observations to determine their significance. In the laboratory reports, students learn the fundamentals of appropriate scientific writing to summarize the objectives of the lab exercise, to provide an analysis of the observations, and to critique the results. The initial drafts of these reports are evaluated critically by the instructors and teaching assistants and then are revised by the students based on these evaluations. Discussion of scientific writing and of proper report protocols are presented in the course as well. 

Objectives for Meteo 440W:

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the principles underlying common physical and chemical measurements of the atmosphere.
  2. Students can demonstrate familiarity with how atmospheric observations are analyzed statistically.

Outcomes for Meteo 440W:

  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to take and analyze atmospheric observations.
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how precision, accuracy, and statistical analysis techniques are used to provide a description of the state of the atmosphere.
  3. Students can demonstrate the ability to write scientific reports summarizing atmospheric observations and the analyses of these observations. 

Course Prerequisites

The prerequisites for this course are METEO 300, METEO 431, and STAT 301 or STAT 401 or EBF 472.  

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:

Kenneth Davis, Professor
512 Walker Building,
Office hours: M, 2-3 pm; W, 5-6 pm.

You are free to contact me outside of office hours. I will respond and will find a time to meet. Sometimes meetings or travel interrupt my office hours.  I’ll warn you in advance when this is the case, and provide backup times.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions or ask for help.  

Lab Instructor:
Helen Kenion, M.S. student
Contact info:
Office hours:   M, W, 10:15-11:15 am 

Expectations and norms:

  • Please be on time for classes and labs. Lectures will set the stage for the labs.  Labs require setup time and group work.  Attendance is important.  Warn your instructors (TA and lecturer) and your lab partners in advance if you have a conflict that might require that you miss a class or a lab session.  You cannot turn in a lab if you do not attend the lab session without permission in advance from your instructor.
  • Turn in assignments on time. Late assignments will be penalized. Exceptions can be made for real conflicts if you contact Ken in advance
  • In case of an emergency that makes you miss a lab or deadline, contact your instructors as soon as possible.
  • Active participation in class is encouraged. Questions and discussion, when constructive, are always welcome. 
  • Take care. You will be working in a laboratory setting with equipment that is sometimes delicate and hard to replace.  Your classmates cannot be replaced.  Follow instructions, and ask if you are uncertain.
  • Assignments must be done individually. Any shared work on research projects must be approved in advance.
  • 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. Students are not allowed to copy figures, computer codes, data or text from another student and present it 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. 
  • The work you turn in must be your own. In particular all writing assignments must represent your own, individual work. Any plagiarism will result in, at minimum, a failing grade for the assignment. 
  • Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Procedures:, which this course adopts. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 


  • Course assignments include 6 laboratory exercises, one exam, and one whole-term, complete research paper. One ‘extra’ lab will be offered as a make up. 


  • 6 laboratory reports: 40%
  • Full research report (content and writing): 40%
  • Research report first and second drafts and first-draft review assignments: 10%
  • Final exam: 10% (covers writing and statistics / error analysis topics)
  • Grades will be 90-100% A, 80-89% B, 70-79% C, 60-69% D, below 60% F. I reserve the right to apply a curve and make this grading scale easier, but it will not become more difficult.

This formula might be altered slightly.  Any changes will be announced.

Grading rubrics for all assignments will be posted in advance. 


  • Course materials will be posted on Canvas and OneDrive. I will do my best to record lectures and post them on OneDrive.
  • You will need to use computing resources (either your own, the department’s or the college’s).
  • Your statistics text book.
  • Writing resources: Science Communication in Earth and Mineral Sciences:
  • Other literature concerning writing and research papers will be provided. If you are unable to read PDF documents, please let me know and we will provide these documents in alternative formats.

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.


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.  The University recognizes that, on exceptional occasions, students may miss a class meeting to participate in a regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activity (such as field trips, debate trips, choir trips, and athletic contests), or due to unavoidable or other legitimate circumstances such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, religious observance, participation in local, state, and federal government elections, or post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as elections or employment and graduate school final interviews).  In all cases, you should inform me in advance, when possible.  Missing class, even for a legitimate purpose, may mean there is work that cannot be made up, hurting your grade in this class.  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:  You should be prepared to provide documentation for participation in University-approved activities, as well as for career-related interviews.  You should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Because of classroom size limitations, we will have scheduled lab times. Your schedule of attendance will be given to you or available in Canvas. The attendance schedule is designed with the health and safety of everyone in the class in mind, to ensure that we can maintain safe physical distancing during class time. To maintain appropriate physical distancing and safety of in-person participants, come only on the day you are scheduled, wearing your mask appropriately (i.e., covering your mouth and nose). 

Use the symptom checker of the Penn State GO app every day to see if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.  If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are otherwise not feeling well, DO NOT COME TO CLASS, and seek the advice of a medical professional as appropriate.  If you have been notified or know yourself that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, DO NOT COME TO CLASS and please make sure you have been reported as a close contact. 

We are counting on you to help contain the spread of the virus (and other illnesses) on campus.  If you need to isolate (because you are infected) or quarantine (because you were a close contact to an infected person), the Student Support Services Office will let both of us know when you are allowed to attend class again.  If you attend class before the approved date, it will be a student conduct violation, because you are endangering the health of your classmates and instructors.  While you are in isolation or quarantine, we will work with you to help you maintain progress in the course as you are able.  [This may include participating remotely, watching the recorded class, and/or completing asynchronous course content.]  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 and make sure you are okay. 

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. 

If you lose internet connectivity during class, let me know as soon as possible and I’ll determine what can be done.  If my connectivity drops out during class, check back in a few minutes.  If we’re not back on 10 minutes after the dropout, I’ll follow up with a plan to make up the missed material.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

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

In case of a campus closure, remote instruction will proceed as scheduled.  In person lab activities will not be held and will be rescheduled. 

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

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

Mask Wearing

We know that wearing a mask in public can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Everyone -- including the instructor and TAs -- are 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 physical 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 physical distancing and minimizing the time your mask is moved aside. 

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. If you are unable or unwilling to attend our in-person lab sessions with a mask and respecting our physical distancing requirements, please contact me right away and I will consider if we can make accommodations. 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:

Wellness Days

 Tuesday, 2/9, Thursday, 3/11 and Wednesday, 7 April have been designated as Wellness Days. No class meeting will happen, either in person or remotely, for those two days, and no assignments will be due on those days. Students are encouraged to use these days to focus on their physical and mental health. Please see  for university sponsored events focusing on wellness that may be of interest to you. See Canvas and the course syllabus for any work that may be due before the next class meeting. Note:  I have asked for permission to trade 9 February and 9 March as “lab wellness days.”  If approved, we’ll have a lab session on 9 February, but no labs on 9 or 11 March.

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 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 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.

Technical Requirements

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 (


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


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 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:

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.