Describe the life cycle of midlatitude cyclones

Overview
The final project for this course is the creation of an annotated weather presentation.

Weather and climate information is an integral component in virtually any form of environmental analysis from the impacts of geological and landform changes to water analysis and sustainable agriculture to construction, engineering, and urban planning. For example, an engineer designing a storm drain must incorporate climate and weather information so that culverts meet local needs in average and extreme weather circumstances without undue cost. Likewise, climate conditions influence the design of irrigation systems that make optimal use of water resources or of architecture that retains heat in cold climates or cool air in warm climates. Atmospheric science is a fundamental tool in the geoscientist’s arsenal.

For the final assessment in this course, you will apply your knowledge of how atmospheric processes create weather and climate by imagining you are an intern for the National Weather Service. The chief meteorologist has asked you to prepare a general weather presentation for an honors science class at a local high school. The teacher for the class has requested that the presentation include an overview of how the atmosphere operates from a meteorologist’s perspective, including origin, composition, energy, wind, circulation, precipitation, and storms, and conclude with a basic weather forecast for their area based on weather charts and maps. (Weather charts and maps for creating the forecast will be provided as part of the assessment.) To keep your audience engaged, you will need to ensure that the presentation flows smoothly and include pictures, graphs, animations, or other visual elements appropriate to your audience.

The project is divided into three milestones, which will be submitted at various points throughout the course to scaffold learning and ensure quality final submissions. These milestones will be submitted in Modules Two, Four, and Six. The final product will be submitted in Module Eight.

In this assignment, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following course outcomes:

• Analyze the composition and evolution of Earth’s atmosphere for how they influence the changes in the atmospheric energy balance that shape weather and climate conditions

• Analyze how energy and moisture exchange processes contribute to the development of wind, circulation, clouds, and precipitation for predicting weather events

• Assess how the process of storm genesis, resulting life cycles, and associated weather impact human activities in preparing for severe weather hazards

• Create basic weather forecasts by analyzing local weather dynamics, charts, and maps

Prompt

Your annotated weather presentation should answer the following prompt: Imagine you are an intern for the National Weather Service, preparing a guest weather presentation for a local high school honors science class. You have been asked to explain, from a meteorologist’s perspective, the basic atmospheric processes that create weather and climate and to show students how that information leads to a standard weather forecast. To ensure that the presentation flows smoothly and keeps students’ attention, you will need to include detailed speaker’s notes for each slide or visual element, as well as audience-appropriate pictures, graphs, animations, or other visual elements to illustrate your points. An exceptional presentation will balance the introduction of technical concepts and vocabulary with less technical explanations to enhance audience understanding

Specifically, your annotated weather presentation should address the following critical elements:

I. Basic Elements of the Atmosphere

a) Analyze how and why the composition and structure of the atmosphere changes over time. Be sure to explain the role of permanent and variable gases in this process.

b) Illustrate how gains and losses in atmospheric energy contribute to the Earth’s long-term energy balance. For example, how do seasonal changes and solar radiation affect atmospheric energy? Provide examples to support your answer.

c) Break down how atmospheric energy transfers contribute to weather and climate change, highlighting interrelationships between atmospheric processes and providing examples to illustrate your points. For example, what is the role of energy relative to temperature, changes in atmospheric pressure, and moisture in the lower atmosphere?

d) Explain some of the principal ways human beings can contribute to changes in the composition and evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere. Give concrete examples to support your answer.

II. Circulation

a) Use geoscience concepts to analyze the forces involved in creating surface and upper air winds, including the relationship between wind and pressure systems. In other words, how and why does wind occur?

b) Analyze the general circulation of the atmosphere, including all major circulation cells and resulting wind systems. Use relevant geoscience concepts to explain how and why these systems occur. You may want to consider how circulation cells and associated wind systems work together in forming one continuous atmosphere.

c) Explain how energy and circulation patterns contribute to the formation of clouds, precipitation, and other types of weather using relevant atmospheric concepts.

III. Storms

a) Describe the life cycle of the four major types of storms and the weather that develops from each.

b) Analyze the types of severe weather hazards associated with each storm type. In other words, what threats are present in each storm system and why? Support your answer using relevant atmospheric concepts and examples.

c) What are the primary causes of death and destruction for each storm type? Explain how and why these occur, including the interrelationships between humans and their environment. You may want to consider where destruction occurs relative to the storm body, path, or life cycle in your explanation.

d) Discuss how people mitigate against the different types of severe weather, including the role of weather forecasting in that process. You may want to address issues related to multiple storm threats or changing climate scenarios in your discussion.

IV. Weather Analysis: For this section, choose one of the three locations marked on the charts and maps provided to create a forecast of local weather. (Be sure to indicate which area you selected.) Specifically, you should:

a) Use the surface weather map provided to describe the state of the atmosphere for the area. What are the temperature, wind direction and speed, relative humidity, and pressure and recent pressure change for the location? You may also want to include information on additional weather conditions present on the map, such as overall pressure gradient, precipitation, or the life-cycle stage of any relevant storms.

b) Analyze the upper air charts provided to explain how winds in the upper atmosphere differ from those at the surface, detailing the role of the jet stream and polar front theory relative to the motion of any weather events. You may also want to include how polar front theory contributes to the motion of weather elements in your explanation.

c) Forecast how the state of the atmosphere for the selected location will change in the near future. Support your answer using relevant atmospheric concepts and evidence from the surface weather map and upper air charts provided. In other words, what weather changes will occur and why? What should students expect for the following day’s weather?

Milestones

In Module Two, you will create a draft PowerPoint presentation relative to the final project that incorporates the Basic Elements of the Atmosphere section and introduces the composition and structure of the atmosphere, solar radiation, the seasons and latitudinal temperature variations, the global energy balance, and energy as a source of atmospheric change. Be sure to include detailed speaker’s notes and appropriate graphs, charts, figures, pictures, or other relevant media to support your ideas on the following topics:

• Explain the origin and composition (permanent and variable gases) of the atmosphere and the basic (large-scale) changes in composition over time. Include human contributions to recent composition change.

• Diagram the general energy balance of the Earth atmosphere system. Be sure to include details of the fate of incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation and how gains and losses in atmospheric energy contribute to Earth’s long-term energy balance.

• Interpret the role of energy in atmospheric processes such as temperature (continent/oceans), pressure, and wind variations, providing examples.

This milestone will be graded with the Milestone One Rubric.

Milestone Two: Clouds and Precipitation

In Module Four, you will create a draft PowerPoint presentation relative to the final project that incorporates most of the Circulation section and introduces atmospheric pressure, wind (including the forces involved), atmospheric moisture, cloud formation, forms of condensation, and the precipitation processes. You will address the final piece of this section of your final project in the next milestone. Be sure to include detailed speaker’s notes and appropriate graphs, charts, figures, pictures, or other relevant media to support your ideas on the following topics:

• Identify the atmospheric forces that generate a resulting surface wind. Include explanations of pressure measurement and units of pressure, isobars, isobaric maps, pressure gradients, and the simultaneous interactions of forces.

• Next, contrast surface winds to upper atmospheric winds. Be sure to include geostrophic/gradient winds, super- and subgeostrophic flow, and ridges and troughs.

• Review the concepts of atmospheric moisture, phase changes, saturation, and condensation/freezing nuclei; associated lapse rates; and adiabatic process in parcel theory in the development of clouds.

• Contrast the different forms of condensation (including cloud types) and the role of atmospheric stability in the development of clouds.

• Compare the two precipitation-generating mechanisms relative to the various forms of precipitation.

This milestone will be graded with the Milestone Two Rubric.

Milestone Three: General Circulation and Midlatitude Cyclone Storms

In Module Six, you will create a draft PowerPoint presentation relative to the final project that incorporates what you have learned about general circulation since the last milestone, as well as aspects of the Storms section by introducing one of the four principal types of storms: midlatitude cyclones. Your submission should be detailed from an atmospheric science perspective but also contain elements relative to damage, death, and ecosystem impacts. Be sure to include detailed speaker’s notes and appropriate graphs, charts, figures, pictures, or other relevant media to support your ideas on the following topics:

• Examine the general circulation of the (global) atmosphere (semi-permanent pressure cells, primary winds) and secondary circulations.

• Describe the life cycle of midlatitude cyclones (including how and why the systems develop, move, mature, and dissipate) and the resulting weather elements associated with them.

• Summarize the severe weather elements of midlatitude cyclones, including critical factors relative to damage, deaths, human safety, and ecosystem impacts.

Presentation Guidelines

In a professional career, one may be called upon to conduct research and deliver findings in professional settings. No matter how extensive the research or accurate the conclusions, a weak presentation can undermine an argument. A presentation is a tool to assist in making an argument. When creating presentations, students develop skills in researching an issue, synthesizing the information, organizing data logically, and presenting findings in an effective manner.

Principles of an Effective Presentation:

• You may utilize a product such as Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Google Presentation to create your presentations.

• There are various template designs that you can find on the web for your presentation. However, first consider your presentation from the perspective of your audience prior to selecting a specific style. Distracting backgrounds, large blocks of text, all uppercase fonts, elaborate font styles, grammatical errors, and misspellings are distracting. Be consistent with the style of text, bullets, and sub-points in order to support a powerful presentation that allows your content to be the focus.

• Each slide should include your key point(s). Do not place large blocks of text on the visual. Your presentation is not a means of presenting a short paper. In an actual presentation, you would not “read” from your slides but rather use them as prompts.

• Any notes or narration you would use in delivering this presentation to a group should be listed in the “notes” section of the slide.

• References should be listed at the bottom of the slide in slightly smaller text.

• Use clip art, AutoShapes, pictures, charts, tables, and diagrams to enhance but not overwhelm your content.

• Be mindful of the intended audience, and seek to assess the presentation’s effectiveness by gauging audience comprehension (when possible).

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