Fundamentals of Mesoscale Weather Forecasting for Educators (3) Applying atmospheric principles to small-scale weather systems, with an emphasis on the conceptual modeling and short-range prediction of severe thunderstorms.
METEO 803 Fundamentals of Mesoscale Weather Forecasting for Educators (3)
When outbreaks of severe weather occur, dire warnings for tornadoes, large hail or damaging straight-line winds urgently scroll across the bottoms of television screens. Simultaneously, television weathercaster's warn viewers to "take cover immediately." Yet, because of the limited spatial and time scales of severe thunderstorms, the areas affected by tornadoes, large hail and damaging straight-line winds often turns out to be relatively small (sometimes as small as a tenth of one percent of the original "watch area"). There is no doubt that people should be prepared to take definitive action to protect their lives and the lives of their families when outbreaks of severe weather occur. But the overall impression that entire counties or cities will be destroyed by severe weather can be, and frequently is, misleading.
To ensure that students develop the knowledge and skills required to critically assess public weather forecasts, METEO 803 provides an apprentice training environment that guides students, under the tutelage of professional weather forecasters, to actively learn how to create their own mesoscale-weather forecasts. In the process, METEO 803 reinforces the notion that weather forecasting involves sophisticated techniques of data analysis and a thorough understanding of atmospheric science. METEO 803 also stresses that the clear communication of the forecast requires strong verbal and graphic communication skills.
Using conceptual models and real-time radar and satellite imagery in concert with output from numerical models designed specifically for mesoscale forecasting, students predict severe weather on time scales of a few hours to one day. For example, students are required to choose a tornado "watch-box" issued by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma, and then to evaluate the forecast (and forecast verification) in the setting of a litany of scientifically sophisticated tools on SPC's Web site. In effect, students will mirror the process that professional forecasters follow to create such high-profile forecasts. For more general outlooks that identify regions where there is a potential for severe weather (time scales of one to two days), students will use output from the numerical models that were introduced in METEO 801 to identify the areas likely to be at risk for severe weather.
To facilitate the learning objectives, METEO 803 includes the use of digital video, audio, simulation models, virtual field trips to on-line resources for weather data, text, and interactive quizzes that provide timely feedback. The course will provide unprecedented access to one of the world's most distinguished meteorology programs. METEO 803 students will be granted licenses to use the courseware developed for this course in their own secondary classrooms.
One of the primary goals of METEO 803 is to give secondary science teachers a scientifically grounded perspective of the spatial and time scales of typical outbreaks of severe weather and other events associated with mesoscale weather systems. In the process, students become better weather consumers and to be able to effectively convey their knowledge to their students as part of an Earth science curriculum.To gain such insights, students learn conceptual models of the life cycles of severe thunderstorms and then apply them in real-time outbreaks of severe weather. In the final analysis, students are able to more accurately weigh the information being disseminated by the media and the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Students will be required to complete weekly assignments. There are 8 lessons in METEO 803. Each lesson contains interactive exercises, links, animations, movies, and novel explanations of the basic scientific principles of how the atmosphere works.
To demonstrate their mastery of the learning objectives, students complete automated online quizzes, actively engage in online discussion groups focusing on real-time weather, and publish, to a personal "e-portfolio," three comprehensive projects that explore timely case studies related to mesoscale weather forecasting. The e-portfolio takes the form of a Web site. In addition to posting their work to their e-portfolio, students also use the space to reflect on their learning. By using their Penn State personal Web space to host their e-portfolios, students are able to share their work not only with program faculty and students, but also with external audiences, including potential employers.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.