METEO 454 Micormeteorology

Instructor: Dr. Kenneth Davis, Lectures 9:05-9:55 MWF, 221 Hammond

Meteorology 454 - Micrometeorology
Lectures 9:05-9:55 MWF, 221 Hammond
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:

  • become familiar with and able to interpret and apply the equations describing the physics of the ABL.
  • demonstrated knowledge of the exchanges of energy and momentum at the earth’s surface.
  • demonstrated knowledge of the differences between the structure of the daytime and nighttime, and terrestrial vs. marine atmospheric boundary layer.
  • learned to describe and recognize, qualitatively and quantitatively the vertical profiles of air temperature, humidity, wind, and passive scalars 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 Building, 814-863-8601
Office hours: Tu, 11-12; F 3-4.

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:

Robert Prestley, Robert will primarily assist with grading.


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. Some basics will be reviewed. The course is intended for upper-level undergraduate meteorology majors and other students in the physical sciences or engineering. Graduate students are also welcome.

Class Expectations and Norms:

  • Students are encouraged to participate actively in class. If at all possible let me know in advance when you cannot attend. If you miss a class, you are welcome to schedule time for an update on the materials covered.
  • Classes will most often be lecture format but fairly interactive.
  • Questions and discussions are always encouraged, in class and outside of class.
  • Due dates are negotiable if and only if you have a good reason and give me advance notice. Late assignments will not receive full credit.
  • Assignments must be done individually. Any shared work on research projects must be approved in advance.  Collaborative discussion outside of class is allowed.
  • This course adopts the academic integrity policy of the EMS College, which is described at Briefly, students are expected to do their own homework, class research, and exams. Class members may discuss homework and research together outside of class (unless noted otherwise), but each student must write up his or her work independently.  Students may not copy problem solutions or research analyses or exam answers from another student or other source and present it as their own work. Any students who present other people's work as their own and any students providing these answers to other students will receive no credit for the assignment and may fail the course as a whole. 


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. Instead, try to do the reading prior to lecture even if you have to skip over some material that doesn't make much sense to you.  Ask questions in class or during office hours. Come back to the reading when doing homework.
  2. Homework assignments will focus on the core understanding that is being taught. I will design lectures around the problem sets, and the problem sets around the essential course units. The simpler parts of the homework assignments will not be graded, but will be assessed via a follow-up, in-class quiz.  Sections of the homework assignment will be more involved investigations, and will be graded.  These portions will be clearly labeled, and will work towards, to the extent possible, topics of interest selected by the class at the beginning of the semester.
  3. Quizzes will be based on, and attempt capture the most fundamental points of learning illustrated in the homework assignments. Quizzes cover all aspects of the homework.
  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 three 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 (graded portions) 25% (approximately 6 assignments)
  • Quizzes 25% (one per homework assignment)
  • Exams 20% (two exams, 10% midterm, 10% final)
  • Research projects 30% (three projects)

The weighting might change as the semester develops.  If so, you will be warned promptly, and the change will reflect where most of your work is being devoted.  I also reserve the right to allow additional work in one area to be substituted for a deficit in another area. 

Schedule with due dates, and list of class topics:

See additional documentation. 

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.

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.


This course abides by the Penn State Class Attendance Policy 42-27:, 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, family emergencies, and regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities.  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of 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.

Weather Delays:

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 (Sign up at: