AOSC470/AOSC600 (Fall 2012)

AOSC470/AOSC600: Synoptic Meteorology I

This webpage will be updated as needed.

Difference between AOSC470 and AOSC600

AOSC470 is an undergraduate course, cross-listed with the graduate-level AOSC600. Both AOSC470 and AOSC600 have the identical course contents, but the evaluation criteria are different. Credit will be granted for only either AOSC470 or AOSC600.

Enrollment Requirement

For AOSC470: AOSC431 and AOSC432 with grade of C- or higher
For AOSC600: AOSC610 is a pre- or co-requisite.

Course Description

Catalog description: "Atmospheric properties and observations, meteorological analysis and charts, operational numerical forecasts. Application of quasigeostrophic theory, baroclinic instability, midlatitude and mesoscale weather systems. Tropical meteorology."

Similar to medical science, theory and practice complement each other in meteorology. This course aims at both theoretical and practical developments through Lectures and Weather Map Discussions. Each class is 50 minutes long, and is split into three parts:

  • 0 - 15 min. Weather Map Discussions (see also assignments below)
  • 15 - 20 min. Chart of the day (cf. Weather Map Handbook)
  • 20 - 50 min. Lecture


Through the coursework, students will be able to
  1. read and interpret weather maps,
  2. understand the present technologies of weather observations, analysis and prediction,
  3. apply the theoretical knowledge of synoptic-dynamic meteorology to the real weather, and
  4. discuss/communicate weather analysis and forecast effectively.



  • Lackmann, G., 2011: Midlatitude Synoptic Meteorology: dynamics, analysis and forecasting. American Meteorological Society, 345pp. ISBN: 9781878220103


  • Vasquez: Weather Map Handbook. ISBN: 097068407X
  • Holton, J. R.: An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology. Elsevier.
  • Bluestein, H. B.: Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology in Midlatitudes. Oxford.
  • Djuric: Weather Analysis. Prentice Hall.


1. Reading

Since the class time is limited, reading the textbooks and other materials is an essential part of the coursework.

2. Homework

Tackling the problems in homework will help deepen understanding of the course contents. Homework must be submitted by the due date at the class.

3. Exams

There will be two exams. An in-class mid-term exam covers the course contents up to the time of the exam. The final exam takes place in the exam week, testing the overall understanding of the course contents.

4. Weather Map Discussions (WD)

Similar to medical science, theory and practice complement each other in meteorology. While lectures provide theoretical lessons on atmospheric dynamics and physics behind actual weather phenomena, the Weather Map Discussions (WD) aim to apply the theoretical knowledge to actual ongoing weather of the day, simulating weather briefings of professional weather practitioners. The regular exposure to the daily weather maps will not only help students develop abilities to integrate and apply their existing knowledge to the real weather, but also help expand theoretical understandings and keep motivated for further studies. Moreover, briefings and discussions help improve communication skills of weather forecasts, an essential asset for weather professionals and meteorologists.

Groups of typically 1-3 students will be formed and take turns providing a brief of the weather analysis and forecasts of the day, based on the latest weather maps of the group's choice. At the beginning of each class, a group as shown in the schedule will lead the weather discussions for 15 minutes. Active participation (asking questions, etc.) is strongly encouraged and adds a small bonus.

5. Course Project

It is important to develop an ability to apply the meteorological theories learned through the course to specific problems of high-impact weather events. Groups of typically 2-5 students will be formed and conduct a case study of a selected high-impact weather event. Choose a past case of a high-impact weather event, collect weather maps and associated data, investigate what happened at that time and what was the impact on human activities, analyze the weather conditions, and discuss about the weather forecasts at that time. Summarize what you did and what you found to be a 20-minute oral presentation. Additional 5 minutes is given for questions and discussions. Half of the grading points come from peer reviews, and the other half from the instructor's evaluation. An interim presentation session will take place in the middle of the semester.


This section will be updated as needed.
WeekDate WDHWLecture WxMapReading
1-W 8/29 1. Introduction
1-F 8/31 A0 2. Weather observationsSurface frontsWMO GOS
2-M 9/3 ===== Labor Day =====
2-W 9/5 B0 3. In-situ observationsSurface obs (HPC)Station model
2-F 9/7 C0 4. Remote sensing (ground)Surface obs (SPC)NWS Radar
3-M 9/10 5. Geostationary satelliteUpper-air obs (RAP)WMO, NOAA
7-2 9/11 Local observing site visit
3-W 9/12 D0 6. Other satellitesUpper-air profilesA-Train
3-F 9/14 E0 7. Sounder instrumentsRadarECMWF Note
4-M 9/17 F0 Review quiz on observationsRadarLec.1-7
8-1 9/18 G0 8. Governing equationsGOES ImageryL.1.1-1.3
4-W 9/19 A1 9. Thermal windSurface anl (b/w)L.1.4
4-F 9/21 B1 10. Rossby waves925mb anl (SPC,RAP)L.1.5-1.6
5-M 9/24 C1#111. QG omega equation850mb anl (FAX,RAP)L.2.1-2.3
10-19/25 12. Q-vector700mb anl (FAX,RAP)L.2.4
5-W 9/26 D1 13. QG height tendencyQG Diag. (NCAR)L.2.5-2.6
5-F 9/28 E1 14. QG energeticsQG Diag. (Albany)L.2.7
6-M 10/1 F1 15. Isentropic analysis500mb anl (FAX,RAP)L.3
6-W 10/3 G1 16. PV framework300mb anl (FAX,RAP)L.4
6-F 10/5 A2 17. Climatology of cyclones200mb anl (FAX,RAP)L.5.1-5.2
7-M 10/8 *no class* (makeup: 9/11)
7-W 10/10 *no class* (makeup: 9/11)
7-F 10/12 Mid-term exam
8-M 10/15 *no class* (makeup: 9/18)
8-W 10/17B2 Review of the mid-term exam
8-F 10/19C2 18. Extratropical cyclogenesisL.5.3.1-5.3.5
9-M 10/22D2 19. PV view to cyclogenesisL.5.3.6-5.4
10-210/23E2 20. Kinematic frontogensisL.6.1-6.2
9-W 10/24F2 21. Dynamic frontogenesisL.6.3
9-F 10/26G2 22. Special: Hurricane Sandy
10-M10/29 *no class* (makeup: 9/25)
10-W10/31 *no class* (makeup: 10/23)
10-F11/2 *no class* (makeup: 11/13)
11-M11/5 A3 Interim presentation
11-W11/7 B3 *no class* (makeup: 11/13)
11-F11/9 C3 23. Types of frontsL.6.4-6.5
12-M11/12D3 24. Baroclinic instabilityL.7
10-311/13 HPC visit
12-W11/14E3 25. Cold-air dammingL.8
12-F11/16F3 26. Winter stormsL.9
13-M11/19A4#227. Isolated thunderstorms
15-111/20G3 28. Organized thunderstorms
13-W11/21B4 29. Tropical cyclones
13-F11/23 ===== Thanksgiving =====
14-M11/26C4 30. NWPL.10.1-10.4
14-W11/28D4 31. Data assimilationL.10.5
14-F11/30E4 32. Ensemble forecastingL.10.6
15-M12/3 F4 33. MOS and verificationL.10.7
15-W12/5 *no class* (makeup: 11/20)
15-F12/7 *no class* (makeup: 12/11)
16-M12/10 *no class* (makeup: 12/11)
15-312/11G4 Project presentation
(11am, CSS3400)
Exam12/15 Final exam
(10am, CSS3400)

Honor Code

Students must abide by the University of Maryland Code of Academic Integrity. Here is the link to the Student Honor Council.


Grading is based on homework (15% x 2), a mid-term exam (15%), a final exam (30%), weather map discussions (10%), and project presentation (15%). Late submission of homework results zero grading point for the corresponding part. Outstanding interim presentation of the course project adds a small bonus. AOSC470 and AOSC600 have different evaluation criteria.

Grading criteria:
A+: 95.00% -- 100.00%
A : 85.00% --  94.99%
A-: 80:00% --  84.99%
B+: 77.50% --  79.99%
B : 72.50% --  77.49%
B-: 70.00% --  72.49%
C+: 67.50% --  69.99%
C : 62.50% --  67.49%
C-: 60.00% --  62.49%
D+: 57.50% --  59.99%
D : 52.50% --  57.49%
D-: 50.00% --  52.49%
F :  0.00% --  49.99%

Useful Links

Weather Map Discussions