Physical Science (Meteorology)

Course Number: GS 109
Transcript Title: Physical Science (Meteorology)
Created: December 12, 2013
Updated: June 6, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 30
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 30
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 65 or equivalent placement test scores.

Prerequisite / Concurrent

Course Description

Covers characteristics of our atmosphere, air pressure and winds, atmospheric moisture, large air masses, violent storms, forecasting, the effect of oceans on weather, and climates. Includes weekly lab. Prerequisite: MTH 65 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Use an understanding of atmospheric processes to explain the practice of weather prediction.
  2. Use an understanding of atmospheric structure and global circulation to explain the different climates found on Earth.
  3. Access atmosphere science information from a variety of sources, evaluate the quality of this information, and compare this information with current models of meteorological processes identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
  4. Make field and laboratory based observations and measurements of the atmosphere, weather, and climate, use scientific reasoning to interpret these observations and measurements, and compare the results with current models of meteorological processes identifying areas of congruence and discrepancey.
  5. Use scientifically valid modes of inquiry, individually and collaboratively, to critically evaluate the hazards and risks posed by meteorological processes both to themselves and society as a whole, evaluate the efficacy of possible ethically robust responses to these risks, and effectively communicate the results of this analysis to their peers.
  6. Assess the contributions of meteorology to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of meteorology in its historical and cultural context.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The instructor will choose from the following methods of assessment: exams, quizzes, lab exercises, written reports, oral presentations, group projects, class participation, homework assignments, and field trips. The instructor shall detail the methods to be used to the students at the beginning of the course.

Course Activities and Design

The laboratory is not separate from the lecture, but will usually be correlated in such a way as to reinforce the materials being discussed in the lecture section. It is necessary for the student to successfully complete the laboratory section of the course in order to earn a grade in the course. Math will be used to solve ratio, percentage, and simple algebraic problems. Also included are the design, reading, and interpreting of graphs.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

A. Explain the nature and history of meteorology as a science

B. Discuss the structure and dynamics of the earth's atmosphere

C. Discuss the basic physical principles of energy

D. Explain how solar and gravitational energy drive weather

E. Describe the different facets of the hydrologic cycle and atmospheric circulation

F. Outline the details of weather observation

G. Discuss weather systems and major theories used to explain and predict the behavior of these systems

H. Outline the details of weather forecasting

I. Discuss climate, climate zones, and the factors that shape them

J. Explain how and why climate changes

K. Discuss how humans impact weather and climate change

L. Other topics as desired by the instructor

Meteorology as a Science

  1. The scientific method as it applies to meteorology
  2. Major divisions and activities of meteorology
  3. Short history of meteorology

Atmospheric Basics

  1. Physical and chemical properties of air
  2. Structure of the atmosphere
  3. Energy flow and dynamics of the atmosphere

Basics of Weather

  1. Physics of energy - States and forms of energy, energy conversions, and types and behavior of radiant energy
  2. Flow of energy through the atmosphere
  3. Heat and temperature - basic physics, measurement, and temporal and geographical variation
  4. Physics and chemistry of water
  5. Water cycling within the atmosphere
  6. Humidity
  7. Couds, cloud formation, and precipitation
  8. Physics of air - air pressure and density
  9. Movement of air within the atmosphere
  10. Measuring and mapping air pressure and winds
  11. Types of winds - micro, meso, global scale

Weather Systems

  1. Typical global and regional weather patterns
  2. Systems, theory, and modeling
  3. Global atmospheric circulation within the troposphere
  4. Air mass characteristics and development
  5. Weather front characteristics and behavior
  6. Mid-latitude and tropical cyclone characteristics and development

Weather Forecasting

  1. Weather data gathering and organization
  2. Forecast techniques

Climate and Climate Change

Department Notes

Columbia Gorge Community College Science Department stands by the following statement regarding  science instruction:

Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. Theories (such as biological and geologic time scale) are developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance. As such, scientific theories can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation. "Creation science", "Intelligent Design" or similar beliefs are not considered legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F.2d 1004).

The Science Department at Columbia Gorge Community College, therefore stands with organizations such as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula except to reference and/or clarify its invalidity.