Course Outline: ENSC 201 Weather and Climate

Course Instructor: Peter L. Jackson
Office: 8-434, 250.960.5985,
Office hours: W F 13:00-14:00 OBA

Senior Lab Instructor: Chris Jackson
Office: 8-241, 250.960.6438,


The objective of the course is to provide an introductory understanding of the physical processes underlying weather and climate. The course emphasizes the ``how and why'' of weather and climate processes, more than the ``what and where''. The course will provide a survey of the atmosphere and leads to senior-level courses in micro- (ENSC 312 Biometeorology) and synoptic-scale meteorology (ENSC 408 Storms), as well as Air Pollution (ENSC 412), Snow and Ice (ENSC 454) and Climate Change and Global Warming (ENSC 425). It is also a pre-requisite for Hydrology (GEOG 310).

Format and Course Elements


There are two 80 minute lectures each week: Wednesday and Friday 11:30-12:50 in room 8-164. There will be a combined Lecture / Lab midterm exam (10%) done in lecture class on Wednesday Feb 6. Lecture and Lab content will also be evaluated in a combined final exam during the April final exam period (34%). No travel or employment plans should be made during this time. There will also be lecture quizzes & assignments done in class and at home and a case study report analysis assignment; these are described the next section.

Lecture Quizzes & Assignments:

There is a weekly at-home online quiz available on the course blackboard page ( based on the readings for the coming week that is due before 10:00 am each Wednesday (5%). Additionally, lecture and reading content will be evaluated in at least one lecture class in most weeks with short assignments, or quizzes using i>clickers (5%). For the at-home blackboard reading quizzes, the mark will be based on an average of all (but two) of the best quizzes. For the in-class i>clicker quizzes & assignments, the mark will be based on an average of all (but three) of the best assignments and quizzes. Because students can miss up to two or three of these without consequence, there will be no allowance made to make up missed work.

Students are required to obtain their own unique (to ENSC 201) i>clicker remote (available from the UNBC bookstore) or subscribe to the i>clicker Reef polling system using a smart phone app or computer web page (available online from You will need to bring your i>clicker to each lecture class.

In preparation for the Weather Observation & Analysis Project, you will analyze the structure and format of provided technical reports/case studies in a homework assignment. The assignment is worth 2% and will be due at the start of class on Friday January 25.


Labs are 2 hours and 50 minutes long. Labs start in the second week of the semester. Students are required to attend their registered lab section. If you must miss a lab, contact your lab instructor as soon as possible to make alternate arrangements. The labs are a very important element of the course where students will acquire numerical, problem solving, writing, and environmental measurement and analysis skills. Participation in the labs is required to pass the course. A complete description of the lab components, evaluation scheme, and details on the project are provided in the Lab Manual (which is provided). Make sure to pre-read each lab and accompanying appendix information before the lab. Lab details such as office hours, due dates, etc. will be discussed during your first lab session.

Weather Observation & Analysis Project:

The Weather Observation & Analysis Project integrates lecture content, lab measurement skills, and your own weather observations by having you interpret the current weather in Prince George over a 4 day period. Skills needed to complete the project will be developed in lab and lecture sessions. Details concerning the project, including all deadlines, can be found in the Lab Manual and course schedule, and will be discussed further in lectures and in labs.


The course evaluation scheme is:

Writing Preparation: Case Study Analysis 2%
At-home blackboard weekly pre-reading quizzes 5%
In-lecture i<clicker quizes & assignments 5%
Course (Lecture & Lab) Midterm Exam 10%
Course (Lecture & Lab) Final Exam 34%
Labs (see Lab Manual) 14%
Weather Observation & Analysis Project (see Lab Manual) 30%
Course Total 100 %

Missed exams and assignments cannot be made up except on written medical grounds and notification to the course instructor prior to the exam or due date.

Plagiarism and other forms of cheating will not be tolerated and will be strictly dealt with according to university policy (see the ``Academic Offenses'' section of the UNBC Calendar). Plagiarism is the ``act of passing off as one's own, the ideas or writings of another'' (The American Heritage College Dictionary, 1044). It includes submitting the work of another, in whole or in part, including copying material from web pages or another student. Any material directly or indirectly originating from another source must be properly cited. Failure to cite sources is a form a plagiarism.

Students are responsible for informing themselves of the risks associated with field and laboratory studies. By participating in such studies they shall be deemed to have accepted personal responsibility for all such risks, to have agreed to abide by the safety rules and procedures established by the instructors, and to have waived the liability of UNBC and its instructors in respect of such activities.



The First Canadian Edition (2012) has similar content, however the second edition has an additional starting chapter and the chapter order has been changed. In addition, the second edition has updated information, some content has shifted between chapters and has been re-written to be more concise. Consequently, we recommend the second edition. There are two copies of the second edition and one copy of the first edition on reserve (2 hour loan) in the library.

Other introductory texts may be useful in providing an alternate explanation of concepts. If you choose to use another introductory textbook, you can match course information to the text by looking up key words in the index and table of contents from the weekly lecture outline.

Readings from the text

Readings from the text will be very helpful to give context and an alternate presentation to that in lectures. Read Chapter 0 of the textbook for tips on how to use the book effectively. You should pre-read the week's material before the first class of the week. Specific readings for each week are given in the weekly lecture outlines available by clicking on the date under the ``Lecture'' heading on the course web page at Also, use the textbook table of contents and index to find material. As described above, readings from the text will be evaluated each week with an online quiz on the course's blackboard page.


In addition to the text, Lab Manual, and and your class notes, local and internet resources for ENSC 201 can be found on the course homepage: Check here to access: lecture, lab, and weather project information; model lab answers for completed labs; example exams and solutions; and to access additional lecture material including local and international weather data, weather links, and a wealth of other useful information. The lecture powerpoint images, topics covered, and detailed readings are also provided each week under the ``lecture'' button. This site is updated each week throughout the term. Due to copyright reasons, some sections of the homepage are password protected. To access these sections, login as es201 with a password of YYYYY (given in class and on the course blackboard page).

The course blackboard page ( will be used for some activities, such as the weekly online reading quizzes and for submitting electronic copies of some assignments.

Reach out for success

University students often encounter setbacks from time to time that can impact academic performance. If you encounter difficulties and need assistance it’s important to reach out. If your difficulties are academic, please meet with the course instructor or your lab instructor. The following resources are also available free to all students at UNBC and can help address mental, emotional or physical health concerns:

UNBC Wellness Centre

(Room 5-196)Phone Number: 250 960 6369 Hours: 9am-4pm, Monday-Friday.

Peer Support Network

(Room 7-102) Phone: (250) 960-5596 Email:

Crisis Centre for Northern BC (available 24 hours a day)

Phone Number: 250-563-1214 Toll-free: 1-888-562-1214


The study of weather and climate is largely an application of physics to the atmosphere. This course is process-oriented and contains lab exercises and exams with numerical computations. With some effort, the course content should be accessible to everyone in second year university who has some problem solving background or aptitude. In the past, students who have not put sufficient effort into lab exercises and who have not participated through active engagement in all course activities, have been disappointed with their achievement.

A few tips on how to be successful in this course

Copyright © 2019 by Peter L. Jackson