AGECO/METEO 122 Syllabus

AGECO/METEO 122 Atmospheric Environment: Growing in the Wind Course Syllabus


Professor: Scott A. Isard, Ph.D.
Class location: 203 Willard Hall
Class meeting time: M W F | 1:25-2:15 p.m. | Fall semester
Prerequisites: No prerequisites beyond high school algebra are required. An interest in agriculture, the natural sciences and the environment in general will be helpful for this course.
Office: 205 Buckhout Lab
Office phone: 814-865-6290
Office hours: M W F | 3:30-5:00 p.m.


Required: K. Lutgens and E. J. Tarbuck. (2016). The Atmosphere: An Introduction to Meteorology (13th Edition): Prentice Hall.


By the end of the semester, students will be able to describe and discuss:

  • the effect of weather elements on plants and animals;
  • how the major weather elements interact to govern storms, daily weather, and climate;
  • how humans are changing our atmospheric environment.


Atmospheric Environment: Growing in the Wind is for students who are interested in learning about the dynamic effects of weather on plants and animals. It is about how processes at the ground surface and in the air govern weather conditions on Earth.

Growing in the Wind focuses on five major weather elements: energy, temperature, moisture, pressure, and wind and how these factors govern ecosystems and habitation of our planet. Emphasis is also given to 1) human impacts on weather and climate and 2) current environmental issues involving the atmosphere.

The lectures are organized around the central theme that the unequal distribution of incoming solar energy (both spatially and temporally) produces temperature and pressure contrasts at Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere that in turn cause storms and control the weather and climate.

"Whether the weather is cold, or whether the weather is not, we'll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not!"


The lecture schedule for Growing in the Wind is provided below. The schedule may change slightly as the course progresses; however, if this happens you will be informed either in class or by email. Slides and lecture notes are available on the AGECO/METEO 122 Canvas website as PowerPoint presentations. Quizzes will be given on lectures throughout the course of the semester. They will be administered with five minutes left in the lecture period and cover the material discussed in the preceding 45 minutes. Each quiz will be five questions in length and worth a total of five points.


The chapters for the readings are listed next to the lecture topics below. A total of ten points can be earned for reading each chapter by taking the associated Open Book Chapter Quiz that is available on the AGECO/METEO 122 Canvas website. The quizzes consist of ten questions and will last for ten minutes. The quizzes can be taken a total of three times and only the highest grade will be recorded. Quizzes will be available to take before and until 11:50 p.m. on the day that the readings are assigned and unavailable thereafter. The schedule for the last day when each Open Book Chapter Quiz is available is provided below.


Exams will consist of short essay and multiple choice questions. They will cover lecture, reading, and project materials.


There will be three labs during the semester. Students will work in small groups on the assignments and make oral presentations of their results to the class.


Exam I Multiple choice and short essay 100
Exam II Multiple choice and short essay 100
Exam III Multiple choice and short essay 100
Exam IV Multiple choice and short essay 100
Class Assignments 3 lab projects (50 points each) 150
Book Chapter Quizzes 13 quizzes (10 points each) 130
Lecture Quizzes 4 lecture quizzes (5 points each) 20
A >90 631-700
B 80-90 560-630
C 70-79 490-559
D 60-69 420-489
F <60 0-419

"Some people are weatherwise, but most are otherwise."


Attendance: You are responsible for all the material covered in class discussions as well as for the readings. Frequent absences will negatively impact your performance.

Assignments: All assignments are due on the dates specified on the syllabus. The university has careful policies about your rights and responsibilities in the case of emergency and illness. Please be familiar with them and do not try to abuse them.

Disability Statement

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Academic Integrity

Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the university’s standards of academic integrity both in and outside of the classroom.

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the university community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity; respect other students' dignity, rights, and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, plagiarism, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the university community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49‐20 and G‐9 Procedures).

Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

Class Schedule

DayDateTime PMLecture/LabAssignment
Mon 8/21 1:25-2:15 Orientation Read chp 1
Wed 8/23 1:25-2:15 Physical Characteristics of Earth and Atmosphere
Fri 8/25 1:25-2:15 Introduction to the Atmosphere I: Composition and Layers of the Atmosphere
Mon 8/28 1:25-2:15 Introduction to the Atmosphere II: Ozone Depletion Read chp 2
Tues 8/29 11:59 Chp 1 Book Quiz due
Wed 8/30 1:25-2:15 Heating Earth's Surface and Atmosphere I: Earth-Sun Geometry & Energy, Heat and Temperature
Fri 9/1 1:25-2:15 Heating Earth's Surface and Atmosphere II: Solar and Terrestrial Radiation Read chp 3
Tues 9/5 11:59 Chp 2 Book Quiz due
Wed 9/6 1:25-2:15 Temperature I: Controls and Distribution
Fri 9/8 1:25-2:15 Temperature II: Human Impact on the Environment: Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect
Mon 9/11 1:25-2:15 Lab I: Weather Resources on the Internet: Introduction
Mon 9/11 11:59 Lab I Part B Step 1: Weather Resources on the Internet due
Tues 9/12 11:59 Chp 3 Book Quiz due
Wed 9/13 1:25-2:15 Lab I: Weather Resources on the Internet: Work session
Wed 9/13 11:59 Lab I Part B Step 2: Weather Resources on the Internet due
Fri 9/15 1:25-2:15 Biometeorology of Plants, Animals, and Humans
Sat 9/16 11:59 Lab I Part B Steps 3-4: Weather Resources on the Internet due
Mon 9/18 1:25-2:15 Lab I: Weather Resources on the Internet: Class presentations
Mon 9/18 11:59 Lab I Part A,  Part B Step 5, and Part C: Weather Resources on the Internet due
Wed 9/20 1:25-2:15 Spillover; Exam I Review
Fri 9/22 1:25-2:15 Exam I Read chp 4
Mon 9/25 1:25-2:15 Phase Changes of Water; Exam I returned
Wed 9/27 1:25-2:15 Moisture and Atmospheric Stability I: Moisture in the Atmosphere
Fri 9/29 1:25-2:15 Moisture and Atmospheric Stability II: Lifting and Stability
Sun 10/1 11:59 Chp 4 Book Quiz due
Mon 10/2 1:25-2:15 Stability Review and Forms of Condensation and Precipitation
Wed 10/4 1:25-2:15 To be determined Read chp 5
Fri 10/6 1:25-2:15 Forms of Condensation and Precipitation, cont., Read chp 6
Sun 10/8 11:59 Chp 5 Book Quiz due
Mon 10/9 1:25-2:15 Air Pressure and Winds Read chp 7
Tues 10/10 11:59 Chp 6 Book Quiz due
Wed 10/11 1:25-2:15 Circulation in the Atmosphere I: Scales of Motion, Global Circulation Models and Hadley Cells
Fri 10/13 1:25-2:15 Circulation in the Atmosphere II: Westerlies
Mon 10/16 1:25-2:15 El Niño
Tues 10/17 11:59 Chp 7 Book Quiz due
Wed 10/18 1:25-2:15 Spillover; Exam II Review
Fri 10/20 1:25-2:15 Exam II Read chp 8
Mon 10/23 1:25-2:15 Air Masses; Exam II returned Read chp 9
Tues 10/24 11:59 Chp 8 Book Quiz due
Wed 10/25 1:25-2:15 Midlatitude Cyclones I
Fri 10/27 1:25-2:15 Midlatitude Cyclones II
Mon 10/30 1:25-2:15 Lab II: Application of Temperature and Moisture Data: Introduction
Tues 10/31 11:59 Chp 9 Book Quiz due
Wed 11/1 1:25-2:15 Lab II: Application of Temperature and Moisture Data: Work session Read chp 10
Fri 11/3 1:25-2:15 Thunderstorms
Mon 11/6 1:25-2:15 Tornadoes Read chp 11
Tues 11/7 11:59 Chp 10 Book Quiz due
Wed 11/8 1:25-2:15 Hurricanes Lab II due
Wed 11/8 11:59

Extra Credit: Lab II Part B3: Applications of Temperature and Moisture Data due;

Lab II Parts A, B1, B2, B4: Applications of Temperature and Moisture Data due

Fri 11/10 1:25-2:15 Spillover; Exam III Review
Sun 11/12 11:59 Chp 11 Book Quiz due
Mon 11/13 1:25-2:15 Exam III Read chp 15
Wed 11/15 1:25-2:15 Climate Classification and World Precipitation Patterns; Exam III returned
Fri 11/17 1:25-2:15 World Climates I
Mon 11/20 Thanksgiving
Wed 11/22 Thanksgiving
Fri 11/24 Thanksgiving
Mon 11/27 1:25-2:15 World Climates II
Tues 11/28 11:59 Chp 15 Book Quiz due
Wed 11/29 1:25-2:15 Lab III: Severe Weather Event: Introduction Read chp 14
Fri 12/1 1:25-2:15 Changing Climate
Mon 12/4 1:25-2:15 Video: To What Degree
Tues 12/5 11:59 Chp 14 Book Quiz due
Wed 12/6 1:25-2:15 Lab III: Class presentations
Wed 12/6 11:59 Lab III Parts A-C: Severe Weather Broadcast due
Fri 12/8 1:25-2:15 Lab III: Class presentations; Exam IV Review
Mon 12/11 FINALS
Wed 12/13 FINALS
Fri 12/15 FINALS

Contact Information

Scott A. Isard, Ph.D.
  • Professor
Phone: 814-865-6290