A tsunami threatens Sumatra. A cyclone strikes the Solomon Islands. High tides hit Hilton Head. Sub-zero temps settle over Sugar Land, Texas. Atmospheric and oceanic phenomena are in the news every single day!
Are there any forces on earth more powerful or influential than atmospheric and oceanic sciences? These fields affect almost every aspect of human existence, and understanding them can answer questions from, 'Should I bring an umbrella today?' to 'How deadly will this year's drought be in Dakar?' and 'How will changes in the Gulf Stream affect the migration and mating of Minke Whales?' Atmospheric science is an interdisciplinary field that applies geology, astronomy, physics and chemistry to meteorology, climatology and environmental science.
In this year-long laboratory science course, students will explore the fields of Atmospheric Science first semester and Oceanic Science second semester. Atmospheric Science is the study of the physical and chemical aspects of the atmosphere which can encompass a wide variety of topics such as weather forecasting, climate change, air quality, etc. Key themes in the study of Atmospheric Science include the gas laws (temperature, pressure, volume) and air movement (buoyancy, angular momentum). Students will learn about the spectra of sunlight, reflection and refraction, and evaluate how surfaces respond to sunlight. The class will also learn about the tools of atmospheric science, such as weather instruments, rain gage, anemometer, thermometer, and barometer, and how to read weather maps and forecast hurricane paths.
Oceanography is the study of the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the ocean. Key themes in oceanography include ocean-land interaction, atmosphere-ocean interactions (such as El Nino and La Nina cycles), wave motion, tidal cycles, currents, and thermohaline circulation. The class will consider water chemistry and the oceanic carbon cycle. Finally, students will learn how we measure and map the ocean and use earth system computer models.
Weekly discussions will be paired with labs. Some lab assignments will take multiple weeks, and some will use computers and a spreadsheet to analyze publicly available data.
Note: This class has a Tuesday, in-person lecture section from 10:00 am - 10:55 am in addition to the Friday lab section from 9:30 am - 10:55 am
Workload: Students should expect to spend 3-4 hours per week outside of class.
Assignments: All assignments will be posted on password-protected Canvas classroom management site. There, students access assignments, upload homework, take automated quizzes and tests, track grades, and message instructor and classmates.
Assessments: Completed assignments will be assessed points. Parents can calculate a letter grade using the student's points earned divided by points available, in weighted categories that include assignments, labs, quizzes, tests, projects, and presentations. Parents may view all scoring and comments at any time through the Canvas site.
Textbook/Materials: Students should download or purchase Practical Meteorology: An Algebra-based Survey of Atmospheric Science (2018) by Roland Stull (ISBN 978-0888652836). The textbook can be downloaded for free online or purchased for $54.00 online. The textbook for oceanic sciences section will be identified before the start of Semester 2.
Lab/Supply Fee: A class fee of $100.00 is due payable to the instructor on the first day of class.
What to Bring: Students will need to bring laptop computers to some class sessions for modeling and data analysis labs.
Credit: Homeschool families may wish to count this course as a full credit in laboratory science for purposes of a high school transcript