METEO 512 Topics in Synoptic Meteorology

Instructor: Prof. Paul MarkowskiTime/Place: MWF, 9:05-9:55 AM, 101 Walker

Topics in Synoptic Meteorology (3 credits)

(formerly "Synoptic Applications of Dynamic Meteorology")

Syllabus: Spring Semester, 2016


MWF, 9:05-9:55 AM, 101 Walker 


Prof. Paul Markowski
520 Walker
phone (work): 865-0478,

Office Hours: By appointment

Optional Texts

  • Midlatitude Synoptic Meteorology by G. Lackmann
    Mid-Latitude Atmospheric Dynamics by J.E. Martin
    Mid-Latitude Weather Systems by T.N. Carlson
    Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology and Weather Analysis and Forecasting, edited by L. Bosart and H. Bluestein
    Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology in Midlatitudes, Volume I, Principles of Kinematics and Dynamics by H. Bluestein
    Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology in Midlatitudes, Volume II, Observations and Theory of Weather Systems by H. Bluestein.
    The Life Cycles of Extratropical Cyclones edited by M. Shapiro and S. Gronas (available from the AMS)

Useful weather links

Grading Policy

Students will be evaluated by way of two in-class quizzes that are tentatively scheduled for February 26 and April 22. The quizzes comprise 40% of the grade, with your better score being worth 25% and your lesser score being worth 15%. Homework, weather discussions, and in-class discussions of assigned reading will be worth the remaining 60%.

Tentative List of Topics

Quasigeostrophic theory revisited: role of diabatic heating; effective static stability; effects of variations in static stability. Alternative formulations of omega equation and height-tendency equation: Trenberth formulation; Q vectors; P vectors; C vectors; quasigeostrophic potential vorticity. Surface and middle-upper tropospheric fronts. Frontogenesis (including vector form of frontogenesis function). Geostrophic momentum approximation. Sawyer-Eliassen equation. Semigeostrophic equations.

Academic Integrity

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. Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write up the 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: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy, 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.

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 ODS. 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 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 and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at PSU Alert).