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Course Outline: ENSC 408/608
Instructors: Peter Jackson,
office: 8-434 phone: 250-960-5985, email:
Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 14:30-15:20 OBA

Stephen Déry,
office: 8-414, phone: 250-960-5193, email:
Office hours: Tuesday 10:00-11:00 and Thursday 11:00-12:00 OBA

Teaching Assistant: Hadleigh Thompson,
office: 4-254 phone: 250-960-5427, email:
Office hours: Monday 13:00-14:00 OBA


To introduce and develop a theoretical, conceptual, and practical understanding of the principles of mid-latitude weather systems at the synoptic and macro-scales from both dynamical and synoptic meteorology perspectives. The lectures will emphasize theoretical and conceptual understanding, while the labs will emphasize quantitative and practical understanding. By the end of this course students will know how mid-latitude weather systems develop and propagate, be able to interpret weather charts and images, and make a weather forecast.


Instruction is through two 50 minute classes (TR 13:30-14:20 in 8-160) and one three-hour lab (W 8:30-11:20 in 8-129) per week. The lab each week will start with a weather discussion of the previous week, and forecast for the coming week in the class. Additionally, students will participate in a weather forecast game. Resources related to ENSC 408/608 can be found at the course homepage located at
Note: If there are students in this course who, because of a disability, may have a need for special academic accommodations, please come and discuss this with us, or contact staff at the Access Resource Centre located in the Teaching and Learning Centre, Room 10-1048.

Textbooks/Online Resources:

Stull (2017) (hereafter S17) is the only required reference, and is designed to complement the texts from ENSC 201, Ahrens et al. (2016) by using similar chapter organization. Holton (2004) also gives a much more in-depth treatment. Note also that an open access, electronic version of Stull's textbook (third edition) is also available through the library's online catalogue.


There will be a mid-term exam, final exam, nine marked labs, weather discussion, and forecast game participation. The labs require a formal, typed write-up, the format of which will be discussed in class. The mid-term exam is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 12 during the lecture period. The final exam will occur sometime during the December exam period, so no travel or employment plans should be made during this time. Assignments handed in late will normally have marks deducted, except for medical or other extraordinary circumstances. In any case, instructors must be notified of late assignments prior to the due date. Missed exams cannot be made up except on documented grounds and notification prior to exam date. Students are encouraged to work together on assignments, however independent reports must be handed in, otherwise credit will not be given. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and will not be tolerated.

For undergraduate students, the distribution of marks will then be:

Laboratory Assignments 40%
Weather Discussion 10%
Forecast Game 10%
Mid term Exam 10%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

Note that graduate students will also be required to complete a research project relevant to their areas of research to be discussed with the instructors. For graduate students, the distribution of marks will therefore be:

Laboratory Assignments 40%
Weather Discussion 5%
Forecast Game 5%
Research Project 10%
Mid term Exam 10%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

Students registered to audit the course will be expected to attend lectures and participate in all of the lab activities as well. However, they will not be required to submit lab reports nor a project report, and will not write the mid-term or final exam.


The following topics will be covered as time permits. Dates listed are the Mondays of that given week. Readings from the supplemental texts will also be useful.
Week Date Topic Reading
1 Sep 4 Introduction: Scope of the course. Atmospheric Scales. Atmospheric Structure. Meteorological conventions. S17: pp 1-3, 315, 425-429
2 Sep 11 Preview: Idealized model of a mid-latitude cyclone; Fundamentals: Ideal Gas Law, virtual temperature, atmospheric statics and hydrostatic law; Atmospheric Thermodynamics: laws of thermo., entropy, DALR, potential temperature
LAB 1: Internet data sources for weather analysis and forecasting. Understanding weather maps, satellite images, forecasts. Weather Discussion and Forecast Game, introduction. (/2)
S17: pp 53-62
3 Sep 18 Atmospheric Thermodynamics & Stability: Virtual Temperature. Lapse rates and stability. Tephigram. Conservation Laws for Mass and Heat. Atmospheric Forces: Forces in the atmosphere and conservation of momentum.
LAB 2: Weather maps I - surface charts (/4)
S17: pp 63-68, 119-144
4 Sep 25 Horizontal Motion and its variation: Geostrophic, Gradient, Cyclostrophic winds. Thermal wind. Hodographs and their interpretation. Jet Streams and Jet Streaks
LAB 3: Tephigrams (/4)
S17: Ch. 10, pp 292-314
5 Oct 2 Vorticity: relative, planetary, absolute, isentropic potential vorticity. Vorticity and Thermal Advection: Divergence, deformation. Vorticity advection, vorticity equation and its consequences.
LAB 4: Hodographs (/4)
S17: Ch 11 pp 362-365
6 Oct 9 Vorticity - cont'd: Short waves, long waves, Rossby waves, Lee cyclogenesis, omega equation.
S17: Ch 13, pp 443-457
7 Oct 16 RADAR: fundamentals, types, Z-R, scans, interpretation
LAB 5: Weather maps II - Upper tropospheric analyses (/5)
S17 p 172, 258, 351
8 Oct 23 Air Masses, Fronts, Cyclones and Anticyclones: Kinematics of fronts, frontogenesis and frontolysis. Cyclogenesis.
Lab 6: Radar imagery interpretation (/5)
S17: Ch 12, pp 389-404, 408-414
9 Oct 30 Numerical Weather Prediction. Troughs, ridges, barotropic and baroclinic instability
LAB 7: Satellite imagery interpretation (/5)
S17: Ch 20, pp 746-762
10 Nov 6 Mid-Latitude Cyclone Development: Pressure tendency and self-development. Energetics approach.
LAB 8: Numerical weather prediction (/5)
S17: Ch 13, pp 426-471
11 Nov 13 Evolution of Mid-Latitude Disturbances: Fitting the pieces together - idealized model of a mid-latitude cyclone revisited.
LAB 9: Weather Maps III - Case Study (/6)
S17: Ch 13, pp 426-471
12 Nov 20 Summer Severe Weather: Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes.
S17: Ch 14, pp 481-509; Ch 15 pp 545-592; Ch 16, pp 604-616, 630-637
13 Nov 27 Winter Severe Weather: Blizzards, lake-effect snow, ice storms. Wrap-up and review.
S17: Ch 7, pp 195, 208-209; Ch 13 pp 425, 434-435

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Copyright © 2017 by Peter L. Jackson & Stephen Déry