METR 5803: Polar meteorology

January 15, 2018
T R 11:30-12:45
METR 5803


Steven Cavallo
Associate Professor


120 David L Boren Blvd., Room 5720, Norman, OK 73072   View map


Spring 2018

METR 5803: Polar meteorology (Spring 2018)

Instructor: Prof. Steven Cavallo

Class meetings: Tuesday, Thursday 11:30-12:45 in NWC 5720 Office/Phone/email: NWC 5349 / 325-2439 /

Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday 12:45pm-1:45pm, or by appointment

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

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in a meteorology or related discipline, or permission by instructor.

Course description:

This course provides an introduction and overview to the weather and climate in the Earth’s polar regions. We will first discuss the climatology, dynamics, and thermodynamics of the Arctic and Antarctic atmospheres. We will then focus on special topics of significance in polar regions, including the atmospheric boundary layer, sea ice, polar vortices, polar lows, and oceanic circulations. There will be no exams in this course, and instead, this course aims to develop and strengthen your skills in teaching, research, and service. The format of this class will consist of two meetings per week, with one meeting time devoted to instructor-lead lectures, and one meeting time devoted to student-lead discussions of relevant peer-reviewed journal articles.

Required text:

None. Readings will be distributed either in class or through Canvas.

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

  1. Holton, R. and G. J. Hakim, 2013: An introduction to dynamic meteorology. 5th ed., Elsevier Aca- demic Press, 532 pp.
  2. Schultz, , 2013. Eloquent Science: A practical guide to becoming a writer, speaker, and atmospheric scientist. Springer Science & Business Media, 412 pp.
  3. Serreze, C. and R. G. Barry, 2014. The Arctic Climate System. Cambridge University Press, 404 pp.


Grading weights will be determined as shown below. In general, a letter grade of ‘B’ is earned if a student at least minimally demonstrates competence in the course material. An ‘A’ means the student has demonstrated exceptional knowledge of the material, and students will receive a letter grade of ‘C’ or below if they have not demonstrated that they meet course expectations. Rubrics are provided with further details of how student’s are evaluated in the grade components listed below.


Course grade weights:


Major component Minor component Due date Relative weight

Leading of journal discussions


Engagement in non-lead journal discussions







Total = 40%

Research: Course      
term project Topic selection February 1 2%
  Title and Outline February 15 3%
  1st Draft March 13 10%
  Presentation April 24 or 26 15%
  Final draft May 1 20%
      Total = 50%
  Peer review of 1st draft Mar. 29 5%
  Peer review of final draft May 11 5%
      Total = 10%

The above will be evaluated on grading rubrics available on the course Canvas page with file names:


Grading component Filename Further reading
Leading and engagement

in journal discussions Written science paper Oral science presentation Peer reviews



Rubric_science_WrittenPaper_list.pdf Rubric_science_OralPresentation_list.pdf Rubric_science_PeerReview_list.pdf



“Eloquent Science,” Ch. 4, 11, 12

“Eloquent Science,” Ch. 25, 26 “Eloquent Science,” Ch. 19-21


Class meetings with alternate each week between instructor-driven lectures and student-driven scientific journal discussions.

Term project:

There will be a semester-long term project in which you will perform a scientific research project. Dead- lines/due dates are listed in the Grading section above. The outcome of this project is a scientific paper consisting of the following sections in the final draft: (1) Title, (2) Abstract, (3) Introduction, (4) Data and Methods, (5) Results, (6) Conclusions or Summary, and (7) References. These sections are described in further detail in Chapter 4 of “Eloquent Science”. The final paper will be evaluated on your adherence to the scientific method based on a rubric provided (Rubric_science_WrittenPaper_list.pdf).

You will also turn in a first draft of your paper. This first draft must contain a “Title,”, “Abstract,”

“Introduction”, “Data and Methods”, and “References” section, and at least one preliminary figure (with the accompanied description in your draft) that is a possible candidate for the “Results” section of your final draft. See Chapters 11 and 12 of “Eloquent Science” for details on Figures, tables, and references.

Evaluations of your first and final drafts will be by 2 anonymous peers, and the instructor. A factor in the grade of your final draft, in addition to those listed on the rubric, is the quality for which you addressed the peer reviews of your first draft. Guidance on peer reviews, and how to respond to peer reviews, are provided in Chapters 19-21 of “Eloquent Science.”

Approximately one week before your final draft is due, you will have a 20 minute block of time to present your research on this term project orally to the class. You must allocate at least 5 minutes of this time for questions. Students are expected to read Chapters 25-26 of “Eloquent Science” for information on who to prepare and give oral presentations. The final research presentation will be evaluated on your adherence to the scientific method based on a rubric provided (Rubric_science_OralPresentation_list.pdf)

For further reading about writing scientific papers, preparing peer reviews, addressing peer reviews, and preparing oral presentations, students are expected to read Chapters 4, 11, 12, 25, and 26 of “Eloquent Science,” which is provided on the course Canvas page. Grading rubrics are provided, which are based on these readings:


There will be no written in-class exams. There will be a term project that involves both written and oral components, described below.

Final exam:

There is no written, in-class final exam. The time slot of the final exam is scheduled for Monday May 11 10:30 am-12:30 pm, which is reserved for the term project, if necessary.

Policy for use of calculators, mobile devices, tablets, or laptops:

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.


Collaboration with other students is encouraged, so long as you follow the OU Academic Integrity Policy. Feel free to utilize the discussion board on the course Canvas page. 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
Wk Dates Lecture topic(s) Reading
1 Jan. 16, 18 Introduction and


McBean et al. (2005)

Pithan and Mauritsen (2014)

2 Jan. 23, 25 High latitude dynamics Hakim (2000)


Journal disc: Burt et al. (2016)

3 Jan. 30,

Feb. 1

High latitude thermodynamics Cavallo and Hakim (2009)
Thursday Feb. 1: Topic selection due
4 Feb. 6, 8 High latitude atmospheric

boundary layer

Curry (1983)

Persson et al. (2002) Pithan et al. (2014)

5 Feb. 13, 15 Arctic Ocean circulation Woodgate (2013)
Thursday Feb. 15: Outline due
6 Feb. 20, 22 Polar vortices:

Stratospheric polar vortex

Waugh and Polvani (2010)

Waugh et al. (2016)

7 Feb. 27,

Mar. 1

Polar vortices:

Tropospheric polar vortex

Shapiro et al. (1987)
8 Mar. 6, 8 Polar vortices:

Tropopause polar vortex

Cavallo and Hakim (2010)
9 Mar. 13, 15 Arctic sea ice Serreze and Barry (2014), Ch. 7
Tuesday Mar. 13: 1st draft due
Spring break March 17-25 (no class)
10 Mar. 27, 29 Arctic sea ice Holland et al. (2006)
Thursday Mar. 29: Peer reviews of 1st draft due
11 Apr. 3, 5 Polar to lower latitude


Overland (2016)
12 Apr. 10, 12 Polar lows Rasmussen (2003)
13 Apr. 17, 19 Antarctic atmosphere-

ocean-ice system

Jenkins et al. (2016)
14 Apr. 24, 26 Term project oral presentations
15 May 1, 3 Politics of Arctic and Antarctic,

Future projections

Tuesday May 1: Final draft due
16 May 11 Final exam week (no meetings)  
Friday May 11: Peer reviews of final draft due by 12:30pm by email


Burt, M. A., D. A. Randall, and M. D. Branson, 2016: Dark warming. J. Climate, 29 (2), 705–719.

Cavallo, S. M. and G. J. Hakim, 2009: Potential vorticity diagnosis of a tropopause polar cyclone. Mon. Wea. Rev., 137 (4), 1358–1371.

Cavallo, S. M. and G. J. Hakim, 2010: The composite structure of tropopause polar cyclones from a mesoscale model. Mon. Wea. Rev., 138 (10), 3840–3857, doi:10.1175/2010MWR3371.1.

Curry, J. A., 1983: On the formation of continental polar air. J. Atmos. Sci., 40 (9), 2278–2292.

Hakim, G. J., 2000: Climatology of coherent structures on the extratropical tropopause. Mon. Wea. Rev.,

128, 385–406.

Holland, M. M., C. M. Bitz, and B. Tremblay, 2006: Future abrupt reductions in the summer Arctic sea ice.

Geophys. Res. Lett., 33 (L23503), doi:10.1029/2006GL028024.

Holton, J. R. and G. J. Hakim, 2013: An introduction to dynamic meteorology. 5th ed., Elsevier Academic Press, 532 pp.

Jenkins, A., P. Dutrieux, S. Jacobs, E. J. Steig, G. H. Gudmundsson, J. S. K. J., and Heywood, 2016: Decadal ocean forcing and antarctic ice sheet response: Lessons from the Amundsen Sea. Oceanography, 29 (4), 106–117.

Lackmann, G., 2012: Midlatitude synoptic meteorology: Dynamics, analysis, and forecasting. American Meteorological Society, 345 pp.

Martin, J., 2006: Mid-latitude atmospheric dynamics. Wiley, 336 pp.

McBean, G., et al., 2005: Arctic climate: past and present. Arctic Climate Impacts Assessment (ACIA),

  1. Symon, L. Arris, and B. Heal, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 21–60.

Overland, J. E., 2016: A difficult Arctic science issue: Midlatitude weather linkages. Polar Science, 10 (3), 210–216.

Persson, P. G., C. W. Fairall, E. L. Andreas, P. S. Guest, and D. K. Perovich, 2002: Measurements near the atmospheric surface flux group tower at SHEBA: Near-surface conditions and surface energy budget. J. Geophys. Res., 107 (C10), doi:10.1029/2000JC000705.

Pithan, F. and T. Mauritsen, 2014: Arctic amplification dominated by temperature feedbacks in contempo- rary climate models. Nat. Geosci., 7 (3), 181–184.

Pithan, F., B. Medeiros, and T. Mauritsen, 2014: Mixed-phase clouds cause climate model biases in Arctic wintertime temperature inversions. Climate Dyn., 43 (1-2), 289–303.

Rasmussen, E. A., 2003: Polar lows. A Half Century of Progress in Meteorology: A Tribute to Richard Reed, Springer, 61–78.

Schultz, D., 2013: Eloquent science: A practical guide to becoming a better writer, speaker, and atmospheric scientist. Springer Science & Business Media, 412 pp.

Serreze, M. C. and R. G. Barry, 2014: The Arctic climate system. Cambridge University Press, 404 pp. Shapiro, M. A., T. Hampel, and A. J. Krueger, 1987: The arctic tropopause fold. Mon. Wea. Rev., 115 (2),


Waugh, D. W. and L. M. Polvani, 2010: Stratospheric polar vortices. The Stratosphere: Dynamics, Chem- istry, Transport, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., 190, 43–57.


Waugh, D. W., A. H. Sobel, and L. M. Polvani, 2016: What is the polar vortex, and how does it influence weather? Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., (2016).

Woodgate, R., 2013: Arctic Ocean circulation: Going around at the top of the world. Nature Education Knowledge, 4 (8), 8.

120 David L Boren Blvd., Suite 5900, Norman, OK 73072 (405) 325-6561