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Table of Contents

1. Course title

Synoptinen meteorologia I
Synoptisk meteorologi I
Synoptic Meteorology I


2. Course code


Aikaisemmat leikkaavat opintojaksot 53606 Synoptinen meteorologia I, 5 op

3. Course status: compulsory

-Which degree programme is responsible for the course?
Master's Programme in Atmospheric Sciences

-Which module does the course belong to?
ATM300 Advanced Studies in Atmospheric Sciences (compulsory for Study Track in Meteorology)

-Is the course available to students from other degree programmes?

4. Course level (first-, second-, third-cycle/EQF levels 6, 7 and 8)

Master’s level, degree programmes in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine = secondcycle
degree/EQF level 7
Doctoral level = third-cycle (doctoral) degree/EQF level 8

-Does the course belong to basic, intermediate or advanced studies (cf. Government Decree
on University Degrees)?
Advanced studies

5. Recommended time/stage of studies for completion

Period 2 of the first year of master studies

6. Term/teaching period when the course will be offered

Period 2. the course is taught every year.

7. Scope of the course in credits

5 cr

8. Teacher coordinating the course

Victoria Sinclair PhD

9. Course learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the current weather situation and explain how it will evolve.
  • Understand the typical evolution of synoptic-scale weather systems
  • Determine how large-scale weather pattens differ from climatological means
  • Apply theories to real weather situations
  • Fully understand the limitations and assumptions of theories
  • Interpret a wide range of charts including satellite images, model output, surface observations (synop) charts and radiosonde soundings

10. Course completion methods

The course will consist of a short pre-assignment, lectures and exercises. There will be a final exam at the end of the course.

11. Prerequisites

Knowledge of basic thermodynamic and dynamical laws governing the behaviour of the atmosphere from the BSc level courses FYS2032 Atmospheric thermodynamics and FYS2033 Introduction to Atmospheric flow dynamics.

Knowledge of Quasi-geostrophic theory from Dynamics of atmospheric flow structures 1 (ATM328).

12. Recommended optional studies

Synoptic Meteorology 2 (ATM353) follows on directly from this course. Mesoscale Meteorology (ATM351) is also a logical next step.

13. Course content

-Description of the course content

  • Definition of synoptic meteorology, typical scales in synoptic meteorology
  • Rossby number of synoptic scale weather systems, accuracy of geostrophic wind and hydrostatic balance assumptions for synoptic scale systems
  • Air masses: their characteristics, typical weather and how to identify them from satellite and radiosonde soundings
  • How to analysis synoptic charts, interpret station circle observations, identify fronts on surface charts, identify regions of warm and cold thermal advection on charts.
  • Mean tropospheric weather patterns and seasonal variations (storm tracks, jet streams, regions of cyclogenesis and cyclolysis, large-scale indices, tropopause height)
  • Conceptual models of extra-tropical cyclones (Norwegian model, Shapiro-Keyser model, conveyor belt model); what they are, how do they differ from each other, what are the advantages / disadvantages of such models
  • Characteristics of a range of weather systems (cut-off lows, omega-block, rex-block, polar low)
  • Rossby waves; phase speed calculations from the barotropic vorticity equation, what Rossby waves look like on weather charts (e.g. hövmuller diagrams, global maps), comparisons of observations and theory.
  • Vorticity equation; the role of the stretching term in leading to secondary cyclogenesis on pre-existing fronts. Comparison between full form of vorticity equation and Quasi-Geostrophic form.
  • Application of the Quasi-Geostrophic omega and height tendency equations to idealised examples, real cases and the current weather.
  • Conceptual models of fronts, ana and kata-cold fronts, warm fronts, occluded fronts, stationary fronts.
  • Identifying fronts, cloud layers, thermal advection and the tropopause height from radiosonde soundings
  • Kinematic frontogenesis; which physical processes are responsible for frontogenesis and frontolysis
  • Visit to Finnish Meteorological Institute Weather and Safetly centre (operational forecasting)

14. Recommended and required literature

The course will use the textbook "Midlatitude Synoptic Meteorology, Dynamics, Analysis and forecasting"  by Gary Lackmann. Published by the American Meteorological Society.

The following sections of the textbook are covered in the course:
Chapter 1: All of this chapter except section 1.6 micrometeorology
Chapter 2: Quasi-Geostrophic Theory. Sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 (but not the part on Q-vectors on page 49) and 2.4
Chapter 3: Isentropic analysis Some of the ideas in this chapter may help with understanding conveyor belt models of cyclones
Chapter 4: The potential vorticity framework Sections 4.1 and 4.2
Chapter 5: Extratropical cyclones Sections 5.1, 5.2 5.3 (especially section 5.3.1) and 5.4
Chapter 6: Fronts - Sections 6.1, 6.2, 6.4 (not section 6.4.4. on coastal fronts) and section 6.5
Chapter 12: Manual Analysis All of this chapter is relevant.
Other useful textbooks include
Synoptic-dynamic meteorology in mid-latitudes part 1 and part 2 by Howard Bluestein
Mid-Latitude Atmospheric Dynamics, a First Course by Jonathan E. Martin.
Some printed handouts will be given in class.

15. Activities and teaching methods in support of learning

Weekly lectures and exercises sessions.

In each lecture we will also look at the current weather situation.

16. Assessment practices and criteria, grading scale

The exercises and pre-assignment will contribute to 30% of the overall grade

The final exam will contribute to 70% of the overall grade.

17. Teaching language