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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Meteorology (METEO)

METEO 410 Advanced Topics in Weather Forecasting (3) Exploring highly specialized topics and techniques in weather forecasting that span from mesoscale to planetary spatial scales and short-term to long- range time scales.

METEO 410 Advanced Topics in Weather Forecasting (3)

T.H. Huxley's passage from Biogenesis and Abiogenesis -- "The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact" (1870) -- will serve as the springboard for learning in METEO 410. In the spirit of a "beautiful hypothesis," forecasters' diagnoses of the present state of the atmosphere and their prognoses for how the atmosphere will evolve with time may be scientifically sound. Yet, local weather can turn out dramatically different than the intent of the forecast (the ugly fact). To compound this "great tragedy of Science," weather forecasters routinely spend most of their preparation time on local details, particularly when the weather tends to get more interesting.

Nonetheless, there are "master forecasters" who regularly avoid great tragedies in weather forecasting. Master forecasters will prudently weigh the length of the forecast time as well as interactions between weather features on the hemispheric, synoptic, meso and local scales while, at the same time, they will adroitly use an array of forecasting tools to arrive at a high-quality local forecast. With the prudent and seasoned approach of the master forecaster in mind, METEO 410 will provide students with a master apprenticeship in weather forecasting. As master apprentices, students will learn highly specialized tools and techniques that will help them to hone and expand their overall forecasting skills.

For example, students will learn a new technique for forecasting rare and extreme weather that is based on assessing departures of specific meteorological fields from climatological norms. In the process, students will study rare historic events, such as the great ice storm across northern New England and eastern Canada in 1998. Along the way, students will learn some basic statistics, including climatological means and standard deviations.

As master apprentices, students will also learn about medium-range forecasting (three to seven days into the future) and medium-range computer models. Students will learn how to implement modern prediction techniques, such as ensemble forecasts from computer models. Master forecasters increasingly take advantage of this avant-garde technique in short to medium-range forecasting.

Unique learning modules, which run the gamut from forecasting wildfires to learning about the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on long-range forecasts (seven days or more), will provide students with the tools to understand the bases for all the forecasts they see on television, hear on the radio, read in publications such as Weatherwise, or access on the World Wide Web. For example, students will learn about the forecasting products issued by the Climate Prediction Center, which include seasonal outlooks that focus on the seasonal impacts of La Nina and El Nino.

To facilitate the learning objectives, METEO 410 will include 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.

It should be noted here that METEO 410 will be one of four courses required for students to earn a Certificate of Achievement in Weather Forecasting, a unique online program offered through Penn State's World Campus. The three other courses that will comprise this online program are METEO 101: Understanding Weather Forecasting, METEO 241: Fundamentals of Tropical Forecasting and METEO 361: Fundamentals of Mesoscale Weather Forecasting.

To demonstrate their mastery of the learning objectives, students will complete automated online quizzes, actively engage in online discussion groups focusing on real-time weather, and publish, to a personal "e-portfolio", four comprehensive projects that will explore timely case studies related to weather forecasting. The e-portfolio will take the form of a Web site that students initially create during the second course of the program (METEO 241 or METEO 361). Students will augment their e-portfolio as part of the requirements for METEO 241, METEO 361 and METEO 410. They will also use the space to reflect on their learning.

At the end of the program, students will make a final e-portfolio entry that highlights their program accomplishments. In this way, the e-portfolio will serve both as a showcase of a student's work for the purpose of course assessment and as a chronicle of a student's achievements during the program. By using their Penn State personal Web space to host their e-portfolios, students will be able to share their work not only with program faculty and students, but also with external audiences, including potential employers. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will receive a copy of their final e-portfolio on CD-ROM.

General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2004
Prerequisite: METEO 101, METEO 241, METEO 361

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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