METEO 529 Richardson SP2015

Mesoscale Dynamics Instructor: Prof. Yvette Richardson Lecture: M, W, F: 9:05-9:55am 101 Walker

Meteo 529: Mesoscale Dynamics

Spring Semester, 2015


Prof. Yvette Richardson, 515 Walker, 863-0791,

Office Hours:

M, W, F: 10-11 a.m. or by appointment


M, W, F: 9:05-9:55am., 101 Walker

Recommended Textbook:

Mesoscale Meteorology by P. Markowski and Y. Richardson

Corequisite: Meteo 521:

Students who do not meet this corequisite after being informed in writing by the instructor may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period: Academic Administrative Policies/Prerequisites If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Students who re-enroll after being dis-enrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct

Grading:  Your final grade will be based on the following:

  • Homework/Paper Discussions: 25%
  • Term Project/Presentation: 25%
  • Midterm Exam: 25%
  • Final Exam: 25%

Course Description and Objectives: 

The goal of this course is to help you gain an understanding of mesoscale atmospheric phenomena.  The mesoscale encompasses many different types of phenomena from mountain waves to severe storms.  Thus, the course is organized into separate sections with similar phenomena in each. While we will do many mathematical derivations along the way, we also will examine observations from recent relevant field projects and attempt to synthesize the theory with these observations and with results from numerical modeling.  Homework constitutes a significant percentage of your grade and will be given approximately weekly, encompassing mathematical derivations as well as reading/discussion of prominent papers, and, at times, numerical modeling of the phenomena being studied.  I hope that the numerical modeling assignments will give you a chance to become familiar with this important tool and use it to apply the material firsthand.  The term project and presentation are designed to allow a greater depth of exploration into the phenomenon of your choice.  You will present your findings to the class at the end of the semester.

Topics to be Covered (may change based on time/class interest):

Scales of Motion, Review of Basic Dynamics and Thermodynamics, Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability, Conditional Symmetric Instability, Gravity Waves, Bores, Fronts and Jet Streaks, Semi-Geostrophic Theory, Sawyer-Eliason Frontogenesis, Mountain Waves, Boundary Layer Structures—Rolls/Cells, Lake Effect Bands, Sea Breezes, Drylines, Convection Initiation, Mesoscale Convection, Storm Types and Environments, Supercell Dynamics, Squall Line Dynamics, Bow Echoes, Mesoscale Convective Vortices, Tornadogenesis

Term Project:

The term project portion of this course is meant to give you the opportunity to explore a topic of your choice more deeply than is possible in class.  You are free to choose any mesoscale topic whether or not it was covered in class.  You will give a 15 minute presentation (12 minute talk with 3 minutes for questions) during the final week of class and will turn in some written materials along the way.  The exact number of references to include in the term paper varies depending on the information content of each, but should be no less than ten from refereed journals.  Have fun with this!

Exam Policy: 

You will be allowed to make up an exam only for very serious reasons that are approved by the instructor PRIOR to the exam

Academic Integrity

This course adopts the Academic Integrity Policy of the EMS College. Briefly, students are expected to do their own problem sets 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 his or her answers separately. Students may not copy problem set or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own even if you worked together to figure out how to solve the problem. Students who present other people's work as their own, as well as the students providing the answers, will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F in the course.

Every so often, we see that on the homework one or more students have copied the files of another student. This is easy to spot, and deal with.

Please refer to the Academic Integrity and Research Ethics page on the EMS website for details of University and College policies.

Students with Learning 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) 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 Educational Equity Documentation Guidelines. 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 44-3. 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 and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

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.

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 will be posted to the course discussion forum.