METEO 533: Cloud Physics

Instructor: Prof. Matt Kumjian, Lecture: MWF, 11:15 am -12:05 pm, 101 Walker Building

METEO 533: Cloud Physics

Spring 2017

This Syllabus can be made available in alternative media upon request.

Instructor: Prof. Matt Kumjian
Office: 513 Walker Building Phone: 863-1581
E-mail: Website:
Lecture: MWF, 11:15 am -12:05 pm, 101 Walker Building
Oce Hours: M, 3:30{5:30 pm; by appointment; or when my door is open!

Required Textbook:

  • Physics and Chemistry of Clouds by D. Lamb and J. Verlinde. Get it online here or at the University Book Store. Be sure to check out the errata here! 

Optional Texts:

  • Microphysics of Clouds and Precipitation by H. R. Pruppacher and J. D. Klett 
  • A Short Course in Cloud Physics by R. R. Rogers and M. K. Yau 
    Note: any required readings from these optional texts will be provided. These books will be on reserve at the EMS Library. You can also download the entire PDF of Pruppacher and Klett through the university library here.

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


  • METEO 431 (Atmospheric Thermodynamics)

Students who do not meet this prerequisite 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.

Course Description from Lionpath: Overview of cloud systems; theories of phase changes in clouds and micro- physical mechanisms of precipitation formation; cloud electrication.

Course Objectives and Intents: This course is designed to provide graduate students with diverse backgrounds a foundation in, and an overview of, the physics of clouds as typically found in the atmosphere. Our understanding of clouds will develop naturally through examinations of the fundamental physical processes operating across a wide variety of scales. We will place primary emphasis on microphysical properties of clouds because this ultimately determines the evolution of clouds. Course Topics Outline: Introduction and overview of clouds (Ch. 1); properties of water (Ch. 2); phase thermodynamics and equilibrium (Ch. 3); nucleation (Ch. 7); growth by 1 diffusion (Ch. 8); collisional interactions and growth (Ch. 9); cloud formation and evolution (Ch. 6, 10); population effects in warm clouds (Ch. 11) and cold clouds (Ch. 12); cloud electrication and lightning (Ch 14.); microphysical modeling. These are subject to change due to time constraints and class interest.

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

  • Practice Problem Sets (1 per week) 20% 
  • Midterm Exam #1 (date TBD by vote) 20% 
  • Midterm Exam #2 (date TBD by vote) 20% 
  • Midterm Exam #3 (date TBD by vote) 20% 
  • Final Paper 20%

Exam Policy: I will administer the midterm exams during a special evening session, unless students are opposed to this. The idea is to give you more time than is available during the normal class period. We will determine the dates of the midterm exams within the first week of class. Except for illness or emergencies, make-up exams will be conducted only for
students who make arrangements with me prior to the scheduled exam time. 

Problem Sets: I will be assigning problem sets (\homework") on a weekly basis. These problems are for you to work through with your peers. It is up to you individually to make sure you understand the concepts! Of course, you may come see me if you have diculties. The exams will comprise problems similar to those on the problem sets, so it behooves you to work through and understand them! I will collect these practice problems on the indicated \due" date; however, I will only grade one problem (selected with a random number generator). You will automatically receive half credit for turning in a completed assignment. The graded problem will count for the other half (partial credit is awarded as appropriate).

Final Paper: During this course, you will need to complete a nal paper that delves more deeply into a topic of your choosing in cloud physics. The topic can be anything, but it must be related to clouds in the atmosphere. Topics could include: (1) Stratocumulus cloud impacts on climate, (2) Arctic clouds and climate change, (3) Turbulence in uences on the growth of water drops, (4) Why ice crystals have dendritic forms, (5) The molecular nature of liquid water, (6) How does ice impact thunderstorm evolution, (7) Lake eect snow storms, (8) Remote sensing observations of clouds, etc. Literally any topic that relates to clouds can be used. Once a topic is dened, it is up to the student to do an in-depth literature review (books, articles from journals) on the topic. This should be done during the semester. A final paper is then turned in that is 10 pages or less, not including references and figures. The paper must be either 11-point or 12-point font, with double or at least 1.5 line spacing. Single line spaced papers will be returned ungraded. I will turn out a separate document describing the details of the project. The paper is due on the last day of class, but there will be some portions due along the way to motivate progress. 

Academic Integrity: Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner, and is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity 2 in the College. As such, all are expected to act with personal integrity, respect for other students' dignity, rights, and property, and to help create and maintain an environment
in which all can succeed through the fruits of their eorts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsication, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the EMS community and compromise the worth of work completed by others. The full college policy on academic integrity can be found at
Simply put, don't cheat. This includes but is not limited to copying, plagiarism, self-plagiarism, etc., all of which can result in a 0 on the assignment and/or an F or XF grade in the course. Ultimately, it negatively aects you: imagine the future disappointment of employers, family, and friends when you turn out to have severe inadequacies as a cloud physicist. If you struggle with material, come see me or others for help! 

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.

Campus Emergencies and InclementWeather: Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to mobile devices, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via the PSU Alert System (to sign up, please see 

Attendance: This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11 and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35. Please also see the Illness Verication 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 verication for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post- graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school nal interviews). Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Oce of the Assistant Vice President for Student Aairs (AVPSA) for help. Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar's Oce at least one week prior to the activity. 

Accommodation 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 website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources.

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' disability services oce 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.

Penn State E-mail Accounts: All ocial communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts and/or posted on Canvas. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information. You may also want to check your
notication settings in Canvas, because no one really knows how to use it yet. 

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.

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. 

Netiquette: 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. 

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, please see:

  • Penn State Armative Action non-discrimination statement
  • Policy AD 85 Sexual and gender-based harassment and misconduct, Title IX 
  • Policy AD91 Discrimination and Harassment, and Related inappropriate Conduct 
  • Penn State Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence 
  • Penn State Values 
  • Penn State Principles 
  • All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

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

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.

Safety: 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.

Disclaimer: Please note that the specics 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.