Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science

August 21, 2017
MTWR 9:00-9:50
METR 5004.001


Cavallo, Steven
Associate Professor


National Weather Center, Room 5600, 120 David L. Boren Blvd, Norman, OK   View map


Fall 2017


Instructor: Prof. Steven Cavallo

Class meetings: MTWR 9:00-9:50 in NWC 5600 Office/Phone/email: NWC 5349 / 325-2439 /

Office hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10am-11am, or by appointment

Course web page: We will use Canvas, which is password protected. Login with your OU 4×4 at

Grader:  Nick Szapiro (NWC 5340) /


Prerequisites: Graduate standing in a meteorology, physical science, or engineering program, or permission by instructor. Incoming graduate students are expected to have a working knowledge of calculus through ordinary differential equations (MATH 3113 or MATH 3413).


Course description:

Present a rigorous survey of the fundamental concepts in atmospheric science to provide the foundation for future graduate course work in meteorology and in related disciplines. The benefit to students in the graduate meteorology program who have undergraduate degrees outside of meteorology will be to provide sufficient background knowledge so that the students are prepared to successfully undertake graduate course work in meteorology. The benefit to graduate students with undergraduate degrees in meteorology is to present a breadth of subject areas that are not typically covered in most undergraduate programs and to cover these areas at the level of rigor expected in graduate studies. Graduate students in related fields, such as hydrology and radar engineering, will benefit from a survey of the important concepts in the atmospheric sciences. The course will be taught at a rapid pace due to the large amount of material covered.


Required text:

Wallace, John M., and Peter V. Hobbs. Atmospheric science: An introductory survey. Vol. 92. Academic press, 2006.


Non-required, potentially helpful books (alphabetized by author):

  • Brasseur, Guy, John J. Orlando, and Geoffrey S. Tyndall. Atmospheric chemistry and global change. Oxford University Press,
  • Doviak, Richard , and Dusan S. Zrnic. Doppler Radar & Weather Observations. Academic press, 2014.
  • Hobbs, V. Basic physical chemistry for the atmospheric sciences. Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Hobbs, V. Introduction to atmospheric chemistry. Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Holton, James , and Gregory J. Hakim. An introduction to dynamic meteorology. Vol. 88. Academic press, 2012.
  • Jacob, Daniel. Introduction to atmospheric chemistry. Princeton University Press, 1999. Available for free in its entirety at
  • Lackmann, Midlatitude synoptic meteorology. American Meteorological Society, 2011.
  • Martin, Jonathan Mid-latitude atmospheric dynamics: A first course. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.



Grade percentages will be determined as shown below. Note that there will almost certainly be a grading curve, with final grades based on a relative grade distribution of the class. Course grade weights:




Tentative dateLocationRelative weight


Exam 1Tuesday September 26 (9-10:50am)NWC 135015%
Chemistry ExamThursday October 5 (9-9:50am)NWC 560010%
Exam 2Tuesday November 7 (9-10:50am)NWC 135025%
Final ExamMonday December 11 (8-10am)NWC 560035%





Homeworks will be assigned during the weeks listed on the syllabus. The number of homeworks and dates assigned are subject to change. The instructor reserves the right to occasionally replace a homework with an in-class quiz or exercise. If there is an in-class quiz, it will be announced ahead of time so that you can prepare.

There are times when you may have an unavoidable trip/illness/absence, making it difficult to turn in a homework. Or you may just have a bad week. Regardless of the circumstance, I will drop the lowest home- work grade in order to account for such life events. Homework must be turned in at the designated time. Late homeworks will not be accepted. If there is a quiz, no make up quiz will be allowed.


Chemistry midterm exam:

There will be an exam covering basic physical chemistry before your atmospheric chemistry unit in order to help you brush up on your chemistry background before jumping into atmospheric chemistry. To best prepare, read chapters 1,2,3,4,and 7 of “Basic Physical Chemistry for the Atmospheric Sciences” by Peter V. Hobbs before taking this exam. You will be provided these readings, so it is not necessary to buy this book. Exam questions will be similar to the problems found at the end of the corresponding chapters. The exam is closed notes and closed books, but calculators will be allowed.



There will be 2 regular exams, tentatively planned for the dates and locations listed on the schedule. These 2 regular exams will be timed, and you will be given exactly 110 minutes to complete. Due to the extra amount of time given from a standard lecture, the location may need to be changed from the regular lecture room. Note that while the second exam will focus on the material covered after the first exam, there may be questions or concepts from earlier material. Exams will be closed notes and closed books, but calculators will be allowed.


Final exam:

The final exam is scheduled for Monday December 11 8-10am. It will be cumulative, closed notes, and closed books, but calculators will be allowed.



As a courtesy to other students and to the instructor, please refrain from cell phone use during class and please set your ringer to silent mode. Tablet computers or laptops are allowed during lectures, but only for the purpose of taking notes; they are strictly prohibited during exams. Use of calculators will be allowed on all exams. You are not allowed to program anything that may be related to the exam into your calculator before the exam. Use of cell phones is not permitted on any exam.


Suggested  practice problems:

The problems listed below are good practice problems from the W&H textbook that I have hand-picked. I have personally solved each and every problem, most of them several times. They will not be graded, but doing these problems will help you to learn the concepts covered in this course. Solutions to most of the problems below will be provided on Canvas.


Chapter 1:1.6, 1.8, 1.9, 1.11, 1.12, 1.13, 1.16, 1.17, 1.19, 1.20, 1.21

Chapter 2:


2.7, 2.8, 2.9, 2.10, 2.14, 2.15, 2.16, 2.18, 2.20, 2.21


Chapter 3:


3.18, 3.19, 3.20, 3.26, 3.27, 3.28, 3.29, 3.32, 3.33, 3.35, 3.37, 3.38, 3.39, 3.41, 3.42,

3.43, 3.45, 3.46, 3.47, 3.48, 3.50, 3.53, 3.58, 3.59, 3.61, 3.62, 3.64, 3.65

Chapter 4:


4.11, 4.12, 4.14, 4.16, 4.17, 4.20, 4.39, 4.40, 4.41, 4.43, 4.45, 4.46, 4.47, 4.48,

4.55, 4.56

Chapter 5:


5.12, 5.13, 5.14, 5.15, 5.16, 5.17, 5.18, 5.19, 5.20, 5.23, 5.24, 5.25, 5.26, 5.27, 5.28, 5.29,

5.30, 5.31

Chapter 6:


6.8, 6.10, 6.11, 6.13, 6.14, 6.15, 6.16, 6.17, 6.18, 6.20, 6.21, 6.22, 6.23, 6.24, 6.25, 6.26,

6.27, 6.28, 6.29, 6.30, 6.31, 6.32, 6.33, 6.34, 6.35, 6.38, 6.39

Chapter 7:


7.5, 7.7, 7.8, 7.12, 7.16, 7.19, 7.20, 7.22, 7.23, 7.25, 7.27, 7.37, 7.39, 7.44


Chapter 8


8.8, 8.12, 8.13, 8.14, 8.15 8.16, 8.17, 8.18, 8.19, 8.20, 8.21


Chapter 9:


9.7, 9.8, 9.9, 9.10, 9.11, 9.16, 9.17, 9.19, 9.24, 9.25, 9.26, 9.27, 9.29, 9.30


Chapter 10:


10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.10, 10.12, 10.13, 10.14, 10.16, 10.18, 10.19



It is highly recommended that you collaborate with other students on homework assignments and/or to assist with understanding concepts you may find more difficult, so long as you follow the OU Academic Integrity Policy. Feel free to utilize the discussion board on the course Canvas page. I will break discussions up by topic for organizational purposes. However, I will not be responding directly to posts. It is not required that you participate, and there will be no grade for participating in these online discussions. This aim is to provide an easily accessible forum to assist you as you learn subtleties within topics via discussions with your colleagues.


University Policies

Academic  Integrity:

Cheating is strictly prohibited at the University of Oklahoma, because it devalues the degree you are working hard to get. As a member of the OU community it is your responsibility to protect your educational investment by knowing and following the rules. For specific definitions on what constitutes cheating, review the Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at

To be successful in this class, all work must be yours and yours alone. In group work, you MUST actively engage with group members and contribute to your group’s preparation and presentation. Your individual student assignments MUST be prepared by you. You may seek outside help in preparing your assignments, but you must present it and provide credits where appropriate. Should you see someone else engaging in academic misconduct, I encourage you to report it to myself or directly to the Office of Academic Integrity Programs. That student is devaluing not only their degree, but yours, too. Be aware that it is my profes- sional obligation to report academic misconduct, which I will not hesitate to do. Sanctions for academic misconduct can include expulsion from the University and a failing/unsatisfactory grade (U) in this course, so don’t cheat. It’s simply not worth it.


Religious Observance:

It is the policy of the University to excuse the absences of students that result from religious observances and to reschedule examinations and additional required classwork that may fall on religious holidays, without penalty.


Reasonable  Accommodation Policy:

Students requiring academic accommodation should contact the Disability Resource Center for assistance at (405) 325-3852 or TDD: (405) 325-4173. For more information please see the Disability Resource Center website Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent him or her from fully demonstrating his or her abilities should contact me personally as soon as pos- sible so we can discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate your educational opportunities.


Title IX Resources and Reporting Requirements:

For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence, the University offers a variety of resources, including advocates on call 24.7, counseling services, mutual no contact orders, scheduling adjustments and disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator. Please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office 405-325-2215 (8 to 5, M-F) or OU Advocates 405-615-0013 (24.7) to learn more or to report an incident.


Adjustments for Pregnancy/Childbirth Related Issues:

Should you need modifications or adjustments to your course requirements because of documented pregnancy- related or childbirth-related issues, please contact your professor or the Disability Resource Center at 405/325-3852 as soon as possible. Also, see for an- swers to commonly asked questions.








Tentative  schedule
WkDateLecture topic(s)Reading
1Aug. 21Introduction; Atmospheric Dynamics Homework 1Ch. 1 – Ch. 2

Ch. 7

2Aug. 28    Midlatitude meteorologyCh. 8
3Sept. 4Midlatitude meteorology

Homework 2

No class Monday Sept. 4

Ch. 8
4Sept. 11    Atmospheric   thermodynamicsCh. 3
5Sept. 18    Atmospheric   thermodynamics

Homework 3

Ch. 3
6Sept. 25   Atmospheric RadiationCh. 4
Tuesday September 26: Exam 1 (9-10:50am)
7Oct. 2Cloud microphysics

Guest lecturer: Dr. Corey Potvin (NSSL)

Homework 4

Ch. 6
Thursday Oct. 5: Chemistry Midterm Exam (9-9:50am)
8Oct. 9Atmospheric chemistry

Guest lecturer: Dr. John Orlando (NCAR)

Homework 5

Ch. 5
9Oct. 16Planetary boundary layer

Homework 6

Ch. 9
10Oct. 23Climate dynamics

Homework 7

Ch. 10
11Oct. 30Radar meteorology

Guest lecturer: Dr. Bob Palmer (ARRC)

Homework 8

12Nov. 6Tropical  MeteorologyTBD
Tuesday Nov. 7: Exam 2  (9-10:50am)
13Nov. 13    Tropical  Meteorology (concluded)

Numerical  Weather Prediction

Homework 9

14Nov. 20    Numerical Weather  Prediction (concluded)

No class Wednesday and Thursday Nov. 22, 23

15Nov. 27    Data Assimilation

Homework 10

Guest lecturer: Dr. Lou Wicker (NSSL)

16Dec. 4Polar meteorologyTBD
Monday Dec.  11:  Final Exam (8-10am)