Nats 101 Introduction to Weather and Climate Fall 2008 Section 4: mwf 9: 00 am

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NATS 101 Introduction to Weather and Climate Fall 2008 Section 4: MWF 9:00 am

  • Dr. Christopher L. Castro
  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Atmospheric Sciences
  • University of Arizona
  • Teaching Assistants:
  • William Cassell
  • Adam Arnold

My Background

  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences
  • Research interests: Climate variability and change, numerical modeling, land-atmosphere interactions, North American monsoon
  • Ph.D. and M.S. in Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University
  • B.S. in Meteorology, Penn State University
  • My website:

Office Hours and Required Materials

  • Office hours: MF 2:00-3:00 pm or by appointment, PAS 520 (Note change from syllabus)
  • TA Office hours: TBA
  • Required text: Meteorology Today: An Introduction to Weather, Climate, and the Environment, Eighth or Ninth ed., by C. Donald Ahrens
  • Required class materials: Electronic clicker device (available from UA bookstore).

Outline for Today

  • Administrative preliminaries
  • Examination schedule
  • Reasons to study weather and climate
  • Topical overview of the course

Attendance Policy

  • Attendance mandatory and will be verified through the occasional and unannouced use of electronic devices.
  • A maximum of three unexcused absences prior to the end of the semester, or I reserve the right of administrative drop.

A Word On Student Behavior..

  • UA Code of Academic Integrity, Code of Conduct and Student Code of conduct enforced.
  • Absolutely no disruption of a safe and respectful learning environment will be tolerated. This includes outbursts in class and/or physical intimidation of either the course instructors and/or students.
  • A violation may result in expulsion from the course.

My Expectations of Students

  • Read assigned text before the lecture
  • Arrive on-time and leave when dismissed
  • Hand in assignments on time. Be prepared with appropriate documentation if you have a late excuse.
  • Respect the instructor and fellow students during class. Please raise your hand to ask questions during class.
  • Silence cell phones and laptops. Do not use otherwise distracting electronic devices during class (iPods, blackberries, etc.).
  • Feel free to let me know your suggestions as the course proceeds.

Your rights as a student

  • To be treated respectfully, professionally, and courteously by your instructor and TA.
  • To have any question or concern answered with respect to the course material. No such thing as a stupid question!
  • To see me privately during office hours for concerns about individual academic performance.
  • To have assignments and exams graded fairly and promptly
  • Complain to me, the TAs, or submit complaint online

Grading: Examinations

  • Three closed book exams during the course of the term and final.
  • Midterm exams cover topics from the date of the previous exam (10-12 lectures + review). Final is comprehensive. Approximately half of final exam cquestions from previous three exams.
  • Consist of multiple choice and short answer, on the order of 30-40 questions.
  • Multiple versions of exams with same multiple choice questions in different order. Each exam will have its own numerical identifier.
  • Exams may be curved depending on class performance.
  • Review session will be held class before
  • TAs or I reserve the right to verify your Catcard when you hand in your exam.

Grading: Homework Assignments

  • Laboratory experiment and write-up
  • Writing assignment (various options TBD)
  • Half the class will do laboratory experiment at a time, the other half the writing assignment.
  • The two laboratory experiments will be randomly assigned.
  • More information on the specifics later in the semester…

Grading: Class participation

  • Will occasionally use electronic devices to ask review or survey questions during class
  • Course requirement to have, as will be using these to monitor attendance.
  • Available from bookstore
  • Participation grade based on the percentage of time a response is registered by a given student.
  • We’ll try this out soon…

Grade computation

  • Term exams: 45% (15% each)
  • Lab and writing homework assignments: 30% (15% each)
  • Final: 20%
  • Class participation (5%)
  • If scores are 90% or greater on all term exams and essay assignments, receive at least A for the course and may opt out of final exam.
  • If the final exam grade is one letter grade above the average of three term exams and two essay assignments, lowest score of these dropped and final exam is worth 35% of the final grade.
  • No carrots if a score of zero on any exam or homework assignment—so don’t miss one!

Grading scale

  • 90% and higher: A
  • 80-89.99%: B
  • 65-79.99%: C
  • 55-63.99%: D
  • Below 55%: E
  • …Remember, individual exams may be curved, based on class performance.

Important Dates

  • Exam 1: Friday, September 26
  • Exam 2: Friday, October 22
  • Exam 3: Friday, November 21
  • First homework: Wednesday, October 8
  • Second homework: Wednesday, November 11
  • Final exam: Friday, December 19 (8am-10am)
  • Homework assignments will be given approximately four weeks before the due date. Grades returned within two weeks after the due date.
  • Scores for exam 3 will be returned on Dec. 10 at the end of last lecture.

A Word on Scientific Literacy…

  • Atmospheric science necessarily requires quantitative
  • skills, even in an introductory course
  • You will be expected to be familiar with concepts such as:
  • Scientific notation  6.02X1023, 5.67 X 10-8
  • Units of measurement  m, kg, s, Pa…
  • Mathematical representation of physical concepts  Irradiance = σT4,
  • If you believe that you would be uncomfortable with
  • such concepts, I advise you to take another course.

Course Homepage

  • Click students and courses
  • Click course links
  • Click NATS101- Castro
  • Lecture notes will be available before the day of the lecture—but may be different from those posted.

Typical class format: Lecture days

  • Class announcements
  • Weather discussion and/or weather and climate in current events
  • Possible review, survey questions
  • Summary of previous lecture
  • Lecture, summary, and class discussion.
  • Lecture typically about 30-40 minutes in length.

Class Listserve

  • I’m currently in the process of setting this up and will let you
  • know when it is up and running…Hopefully by next week.

Email and Listserve Rules

  • Must be from an “” account.
  • Deal only with course materials of general interest.
  • Direct personal concerns, such as academic performance, directly to me.
  • Appropriate etiquette:
  • No advertising
  • No profanity
  • No inappropriate links (e.g. pornography)

Questions on course administrative policies?

Why Study Weather and Climate?

The atmosphere is vital to maintaining life on Earth

  • (NASA image)

The atmosphere is an integral part of the physical world we experience. To understand it satisfies our instinctive curiosity.

  • View from Kitt Peak , July 2006 (C. Castro).

Like death and taxes, weather and climate affects all of us every day in big and small ways. …and human beings may be affecting it!

  • Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005
  • (NOAA imagery).

I realize this is “one of those required gen. ed’s” and most of you are not going to pursue careers in atmospheric science (and 9am may be kind of early for some of us…) My primary goal in teaching this course reflects one of the core missions of our department, college, and university: To make ALL of you more thoughtful and enlightened citizens, regardless of what grade you may receive this semester.

  • My brief comment on “Gen. Ed.” courses like this one…

Topical Overview

  • Introduction to Weather and Climate
  • Energy and Moisture
  • Dynamics
  • Severe weather
  • Air pollution
  • Climate variability and change


  • Read Chapter 1, Ahrens
  • On 3 x 5 card, 1) write two questions regarding topics you would like me to discuss during the course and 2) Put your name and clicker serial number. Please turn in Friday.

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