METEO 419 - Air Quality Forecasting

Spring Semester 2014 Instructors: Dr. Amy Huff and William F. Ryan

Meteorology 419 Syllabus

Air Quality Forecasting
Spring Semester 2014

Dr. Amy Huff, 402A Walker, 865-2951,
William F. (Bill) Ryan, 401 Walker, 865-9025,

Office Hours: by appointment
Lecture: Tuesday/Thursday, 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM, 607 Walker

Course Description and Objectives:

This course will provide students with a practical understanding of current techniques in operational air quality forecasting.  The focus will be on ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the two most commonly forecasted pollutants in the United States.  The chemical properties of O3 and PM2.5 will be summarized to provide the physical background for making forecasts, and the impacts of weather on pollutant concentrations will be discussed.  Current techniques for forecasting air quality will be presented and used by the students to create their own PM2.5 forecasts for the Susquehanna Valley region of southeastern Pennsylvania.  Students will also conduct air quality weather briefings and analyses of historical air quality events. 

Course Prerequisites:

To take this course, students must have the background provided in a basic course in chemistry and a basic course in meteorology that covers weather systems governing the transport of air pollution (e.g., Chem 110 and Meteo 3 OR Meteo 101 OR Meteo 200A and Meteo 201B OR Meteo 201).  If you have not completed these prerequisites, then consult with the instructors. 

Class Notes

Lectures will be posted to the Angel Meteo 419 class page before class or within 24 hours after class.


The final grade for each student will calculated as follows:

  • 10% - Attendance and class participation
  • 25% - Forecasts
  • 40% - Quizzes (4)
  • 10% - Air quality weather briefing
  • 15% - Historical air quality event analysis: report and presentation

Attendance and class participation:

Attendance in class is mandatory.  If a student must miss class for a legitimate reason (including illness), then he/she needs obtain approval from the instructors ahead of time.  The instructors will routinely ask students questions during class in the spirit of the Socratic Method, which will count toward the participation grade.  In addition, homework will periodically be assigned on a topic of current interest.


The grade for forecasts will be based on timeliness (forecasts issued on time), skill of forecasted values, and the content of the forecast discussion.  Forecasts are due via email to the instructors by 11 PM each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for the period February 11 through April 24 and are valid for the next day.


Quizzes will include a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions.  They will be given during class and last approximately 30 minutes.  Students will be allowed to make up a quiz only for legitimate reasons that must be approved by the instructors ahead of time. 

Air quality weather briefing:

Each student will conduct one 10-minute air quality weather briefing.  The grade for the briefing will be based on content, completeness, and timeliness.  A breakdown of the required elements will be provided before the student briefings begin.

Historical air quality event analysis report and presentation:

Students will work in groups of 2-3 to a) analyze a historical air quality event in a 5-page written report and b) summarize the event in a 20-minute oral presentation.  The grade for the report and presentation will be based on content, completeness, timeliness (presentation), and clarity of explanation.  A breakdown of the required elements will be provided before the presentations begin. 

Class Structure:

Each class will combine a lecture and an air quality weather briefing.  For the first five weeks, the briefings will be given by the instructors.  Then students will take turns conducting the briefings for the rest of the semester.  Beginning in late March, student groups will also make their historical air quality event presentations during class.  A schedule will be provided with a breakdown of days/presenters.

Academic Integrity:

Students in this class are expected to complete the required work for this class on their own or in designated groups (when permitted), including quizzes, air quality weather briefings, historical air quality event analyses, and forecast values/written discussions.  For information about the Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy, which this course adopts, please see:

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

The Office of Disability Services ( requests and maintains disability-related documents; certifies eligibility for services; determines academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services; and develops plans for the provision of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services as mandated under Title II of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  A list of these services is provided at

Class Cancellations:

If the instructors need to cancel class unexpectedly for any reason, we will email the class and post the cancellation on the Angel class page.  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 PSUTXT (to sign up, please see