MTR 4400, Advanced Synoptic Meteorology, is the final course meteorology majors take in the spring before graduating. We take the equations of motion we derived in our dynamics course in the fall, simplify them by making assumptions, and then apply them to the real atmosphere for the sake of forecasting large scale weather systems like mid-latitude cyclones and their associated weather (fronts, rain, snow, winds). Each day, students listen to me lecture, then go to the computer lab and explore the layers of the atmosphere in a weather system using a software called IDV. We end each 2-hour meeting with a 20 minute student-lead discussion of the current weather and forecast by applying what we are learning in class to the weather. Students gain skills and confidence in speaking about weather data in front of an audience. Click on the Weather Map Links tab above to see the webpages we typically touch on during a discussion. Students this past semester did a lab exploring the steering mechanism for Hurricane Sandy and how that may relate to the hypothesis that the record low sea ice in the Arctic may have allowed for a stagnated ridge over the North Atlantic, causing Sandy to be steered into New Jersey.
This course has become quite fun to teach as I have allowed the students to do more exploring in IDV than using prescriptive labs. Students hopefully are able to take all of that complicated mess of classes they have taken and have them come together in this one course to finally make sense. Lackmann's book has been my savior for making this course more fun.