GE172  Weather, Climate and the Environment

GE173  Weather, Climate and the Environment Discussion Hour


Prof. John E. Ebel                                                                                  Fall, 2010

Office: Devlin 309  tel.: 617-552-3399                                       Lectures:  Higgins 300

Weston Observatory  tel. 617-552-8319                                       Tues. & Thurs. 10:30-11:45


Office Hours – TBA

   or by appointment                                                                              GE173 -- by arrangement


Course prerequisites:  None.  This is a core course that satisfies the natural science requirement and is open to all students.  The level of mathematics of this course will be very simple, emphasizing an understanding of charts and graphs with only a few simple calculations.


Purpose of the course:  This course is an introduction to the Earth's climate and weather and to environmental issues associated with the Earth's atmosphere.  The students will learn to understand the different kinds of weather measurements, read and interpret weather maps, find weather information on the worldwide web, and forecast the weather.  We will also discuss important environmental topics like air pollution, global warming, and the ozone hole.  The discussion hour, GE173, is designed to give hands-on experience in acquiring and interpreting weather data.


Textbook (required):  Essentials of Meteorology, 5th edition by C. Donald Ahrens (Cengage Learning, 2008).


Class web site:  Also, a Blackboard Vista site for the course has been established.


Course topics:  The first half of the course will be primarily on the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere.  We will explore the composition and structure of the atmosphere, how temperature and humidity vary, and how clouds and precipitation form.  Pollution of the atmosphere and global warming will be examined.  The second half of the course will focus on the causes of winds, weather systems, storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and their evolution.  It also will examine the relationship between the climate and weather.


Discussion Hour:  The discussion hour will give the students an opportunity to do concentrated work with weather instruments, weather data, weather maps and weather prediction.  Included during some of the discussion sections will be an introduction to weather data on the worldwide web.


Assignments and examinations:  Regular attendance at class lectures is essential for understanding the topics to be covered since extensive use of audio-visual aids such as demonstration experiments, computer demonstrations, videotapes and slides will be used.  Two in-class, one-hour, closed-book, mid-term examinations will be given during the term along with the closed-book final examination.  All examinations will seek to test an understanding of the basic concepts taught and their application to particular geologic situations.  Grading will be as follows: Midterms - 25% each; Laboratory assignments - 20%; Final exam - 30%.  No student may be absent from any examination without prior permission of the instructor or a written excuse from a doctor or dean.  Course grades will be assigned according to the guidelines published in the University Bulletin.  Students are reminded of the Boston College policy on academic integrity.

Ge172  Weather, Climate and the Environment                      Prof. John E. Ebel

                                                                                                                        Fall, 2010


Revised Schedule of Reading Assignments and Examinations


               Week 1          Sept. 7/9               Chapters 1 and 2

               Week 2          Sept. 14/16          Chapters 2 and 3

               Week 3          Sept. 21/23          Chapters 4 and 5

               Week 4          Sept. 28                 Chapter 5

               Week 4          Sept. 30                 Review for First Mid-Term Examination

               Week 5          Oct. 5                     First Mid-Term Examination

               Week 5          Oct. 7                     Chapter 6

               Week 6          Oct. 12/14            Chapters 6 and 7

               Week 7          Oct. 19/21            Chapters 7 and 8

               Week 8          Oct. 26/28            Chapters 8 and 9

               Week 9          Nov. 2/4               Chapters 9 and 10

               Week 10        Nov. 9                   Chapter 11

               Week 10        Nov. 11                 Review for Second Mid-Term Examination

               Week 11        Nov. 16                 Second Mid-Term Examination

               Week 11        Nov. 18                 Chapter 12

               Week 12        Nov. 23                 Chapter 13

               Week 13        Nov. 30                 Chapter 14

               Week 13        Dec. 2                    Chapter 15

               Week 14        Dec. 7                    Special topic—the Environment

               Week 14        Dec. 9                    Review for Final Examination


                                         Dec. 20                 Final Examination, 12:30 pm


Note:  The above schedule for review sessions and mid-term examinations is subject to change due to bad weather or earthquakes.




Ge173  Weather, Climate and the Environment                      Prof. John E. Ebel

Laboratory/Discussion Hour                                                             Fall, 2010


Scheduling of the class times for the Laboratory/Discussion hour will take place during the Sept. 9 class.  A schedule of the Laboratory/Discussion Hour topics to be covered will be handed out at the first lab meeting during the week of September 13-17.