ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT Instructor: Dr. Scott Isard Lecture: 2:30-3:20 p.m. Mon, Wed & Fri – 173 Willard Hall


Growing in the Wind 

  • Lecture: 2:30-3:20 p.m. Mon, Wed & Fri – 173 Willard Hall 
  • Professor: Dr. Scott Isard
  • Office: Rm 205, Buckhout Lab
  • Office phone: 865-6290
  • Email:
  • Office hours: Mon, Wed & Fri 3:30-5:00 p.m.
  • ANGEL web address:   


F. 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 a) the effect of weather elements on plants and animals, b) how the major weather elements interact to govern storms, daily weather, and climate, and 3) 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 human impacts on weather and climate, and 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) produce temperature and pressure contrasts at the Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere that in turn cause storms and control the weather and climate. 

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. 


Many of the materials for Growing in the Wind are available on the AGECO/METEO 122 ANGEL website. In fact, you MUST learn to use this resource in Growing in the Wind. The url for the logon page is:

Being comfortable with the course website will help students succeed in the class. If you have any questions about the website, please feel free to ask me via email or in class. 


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 ANGEL website as power point presentations. Quizzes will be given in lecture throughout the course of the semester. They will be administered with 5 minutes left in the lecture period and cover the material discussed in the preceding 45 minutes. Each quiz will be 5 questions in length and worth at total of 5 points.     


The Chapters for the readings are listed next to the lecture topics below. A total of 10 points can be earned for reading each chapter by taking the associated Open Book Chapter Quiz that is available on the AGECO/METEO 122 ANGEL website. The quizzes consist of 10 questions and will last for 10 minutes. The quizzes can be taken a total of 3 times and only the highest grade will be recorded. Quizzes will be available to take before and until 11:50 p.m. on 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 3 class projects during the semester.  Students will work in small groups on the assignments and make oral presentations of their results to the class. 


There are 700 points that may be earned in Growing in the Wind. Grades are generally based on a straight scale ( 90+ % is an A, 80-90 % is a B, 70-79% is a C, 60 to 69% is a D, < 60% is a F).

  • Exam I Multiple choice and short essay 100 pts.
  • Exam II Multiple choice and short essay 100 pts.
  • Exam III Multiple choice and short essay 100 pts.
  • Exam IV Multiple choice and short essay 100 pts.
  • Class Assignments 3 Labs projects: each worth 50 points 150 pts.
  • Book Chapter Quizzes 13 book chapter quizzes: each worth 10 points 130 pts.
  • Lecture Quizzes at least 4 lecture quizzes: each worth 5 points 20 pts.
  • Total Points 700 pts. 


Attendance: You are responsible both 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. 

Academic Integrity: Penn State defines academic integrity as the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. All 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 (Faculty Senate Policy 49-20).

Dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated in this course. Dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. Students who are found to be dishonest will receive academic sanctions and will be reported to the University’s Judicial Affairs office for possible further disciplinary sanction.

Disability: The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities and is committed to the policy that all people shall have equal access to programs, facilities, and admissions without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have questions about physical access, please tell the me as soon as possible. 


  • Chapter 1: Introduction to the Atmosphere / 11:55 PM Monday, August 31
  • Chapter 2: Heating Earth's Surface and Atmosphere / 11:55 PM Friday, September 4
  • Chapter 3: Temperature/11:55 PM Sunday, September 13
  • Chapter 4: Moisture and Atmospheric Stability/11:55 PM Sunday, October 4
  • Chapter 5: Forms of Condensation and Precipitation / 11:55 PM Wednesday, October 7
  • Chapter 6: Air Pressure and Winds / 11:55 PM Sunday, October 11
  • Chapter 7: Circulation of the Atmosphere / 11:55 PM Sunday, October 18
  • Chapter 8: Air Masses / 11:55 PM Monday, October 26
  • Chapter 9: Midlatitude Cyclones / 11:55 PM Sunday, November 1
  • Chapter 10: Thunderstorms and Tornadoes / 11:55 PM Monday, November 9
  • Chapter 11: Hurricanes / 11:55 PM Sunday, November 15
  • Climate 15: World Climates / 11:55 PM Sunday, December 2
  • Chapter 14: The Changing Climate / 11:55 PM Wednesday, December 9


Date/Topic/Lecture Reading
  • 8/24 Orientation Explanation of Syllabus, Why study weather and climate
  • 8/26 Earth Atmospheric System Physical Characteristics and Features of Earth that Impact the Atmospheric Environment
  • 8/28 Earth Atmospheric System Introduction to the Atmosphere I: Composition and Layers of the Atmosphere Chpt. 1
  • 8/31 Earth Atmospheric System Introduction to the Atmosphere II: Human Impact on the Atmospheric Environment: Ozone Depletion
  • 9/2 Earth Atmospheric System Heating Earth's Surface and Atmosphere I: Earth-Sun Geometry & Energy, Heat, and Temperature Chpt. 2
  • 9/4 Earth Atmospheric System Heating Earth's Surface and Atmosphere II: Solar and Terrestrial Radiation
  • 9/7 Labor Day Holiday
  • 9/9 Earth Atmospheric System Temperature I: Controls and Distribution Chpt. 3
  • 9/11 Earth Atmospheric System Temperature II: Human Impact on the Atmospheric Environment: Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect
  • 9/14 Lab I: Weather Resources on the Internet: Introduction
  • 9/16 Lab I: Weather Resources on the Internet:  Work session
  • 9/18 Earth Atmospheric System Biometeorology of Plants, Animals and Humans
  • 9/21 Lab 1: Class presentations: Weather Resources on the Internet
  • 9/23 Earth Atmospheric System “Spillover from previous classes” and Exam Review
  • 9/25 EXAM I Exam given in Lecture
  • 9/28 Weather Phase Changes of Water and Exam I Return Chpt. 4
  • 9/30 Weather Moisture & Atmospheric Stability I: Moisture in the Atmosphere
  • 10/2 Weather Moisture & Atmospheric Stability II: Lifting and Stability
  • 10/5 Weather Forms of Condensation and Precipitation Chpt. 5
  • 10/7 Weather Forms of Condensation and Precipitation continued
  • 10/9 Weather Air Pressure and Winds Chpt. 6
  • 10/12 Weather Circulation in the Atmosphere I: Scales of Motion, Global Circulation Models, and Hadley Cells Chpt. 7
  • 10/14 Weather Circulation in the Atmosphere II: Westerlies
  • 10//16 Weather Circulation in the Atmosphere III
  • 10/19 Weather El Nino/La Nina and the Southern Oscillation
  • 10/21 Weather “Spillover from previous classes” and Exam Review
  • 10/23 EXAM II Exam given in Lecture
  • 10/26 Weather Exam II Return and Air Masses Chpt. 8
  • 10/28 Weather Midlatitude Cyclones I
  • 10/30 Weather Midlatitude Cyclones II Chpt. 9
  • 11/2 Lab II, Applications of Temperature and Moisture Data:  Introduction
  • 11/4 Lab II, Applications of Temperature and Moisture Data:  Work session
  • 11/6 Weather Thunderstorms Chpt. 10
  • 11/9 Weather Tornadoes
  • 11/11 Weather Hurricanes, Lab II due Chpt. 11
  • 11/13 Weather “Spillover from previous classes” and Exam Review
  • 11/16 EXAM III Exam given in Lecture
  • 11/18 Exam III Return Climate Classification & Global Precipitation Patterns and Exam III Return
  • 11/20 Climate World Climates I Chpt. 15
  • 11/21-11/29 Thanksgiving Vacation
  • 11/30 Climate World Climates II
  • 12/2 Lab III, Severe Weather Event:  Introduction
  • 12/4 Climate The Changing Climate Chpt 14
  • 12/7 Climate To What Degree:  What Science is Telling us about Climate Change, video
  • 12/9 Lab III, Class presentations
  • 12/11 Lab III, Class presentations
  • ????????? EXAM IV