"Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get."
Oh dear, this is where things start getting serious on your A2 course. Meteorology can be seriously hard stuff to get your head round. Although there's less of a need to be able to visualise the atmosphere in its myriad levels of detail now with the A2, it's still a challenging topic. The students still need to reconcile the local 'microclimate' scale with the globe-encircling Rossby Waves and the tri-cellular model. The fact that there are processes going on which cannot be seen tends to create problems. Despite this, the last few years have seen at least one of our students aiming for a career in this direction - it must be the inspirational teaching. Also a previous student recently won a prestigious prize for his work on aircraft contrails and global warming.
Start by keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and try to see how the weather changes according to reasonably predictable patterns, depending on the pressure situation, and the relative position of High and Low pressure systems. Note that when fronts pass over the country it tends to rain on those days, whereas High pressure brings drier settled conditions. Unless you get anticyclonic gloom of course.
Go HERE for information on the storms of October 2002, which could be a good case study of the effect of a low pressure system on human activity.
It's vital that you do lots of READING or you won't be able to achieve the best result in this course. Need to have appropriate images and exemplification.
Follow the forecast from day to day and try to keep on top of the SYNOPTIC situation. How is the weather in East Anglia compared to that in the rest of the UK ?
You need to be able to recognise the different air masses influencing the weather and the link with stability of air masses.
POLAR MARITIME RETURNING (always a pesky one to remember and identify - remember Mr. Stone's synoptic charts!)
Make sure you know about the nature of the source region and the changes that happen to the air mass as it tracks away from its source region, and also the effects locally when it arrives in the UK, and also the relative frequency of occurrence of different air masses and that it varies between the N and S of the country....) Phew... A lot to remember there...
Try this Welsh NGFL lesson: http://www.ngfl-cymru.org.uk/vtc/depression_and_fronts/eng/Introduction/default.htm
Check out the need to appreciate how the ITCZ moves: for example this diagram:
or this animated site:
http://people.cas.sc.edu/carbone/modules/mods4car/africa-itcz/index.html - recommended !
Summer and Winter anticyclones
7. Have a play at Martin Doran's SIM CYCLONE decision making exercise.
http://martin.doran.com/index.htm (new URL for January 2007)
Heat Island resources coming soon...
Remember the LONDON page which has an excellent downloadable report.
11. For an excellent little animation of the CORIOLIS FORCE go to the Danish WIND POWER site. This gives the impression of the spiralling effect of the Coriolis force.
12. Composition and structure of Atmosphere - usually one of the first lessons.
14. Depressions: Low Pressure Systems
15. Formation of Tropical Cyclones
Now with new Hurricanes and Cyclone materials for January 2007
These are featured as part of the synoptic paper. They are similar in formation and structure to both mid-latitude and tropical depressions, but are more localised, and can affect very small areas. We have a selection of videos ranging from UK Twisters, which features the Selsey twister which damaged Patrick Moore's telescope, to Twister chasers in Tornado alley in the mid-west of the USA.
Within the UK, Tornadoes are studied by TORRO (logo below..)
The Discovery Channel and their ilk often have some useful documentaries that can be used with groups. I also have a video entitled 'Britain's Worst Weather' which features amateur UK based tornado chasers...
There have been some recent tornadoes in the UK which have made the news, notably those in Birmingham and London. There was a recent Equinox programme on the Tornado (January 2007)
17. WEATHER OBSERVATIONS - LOCAL FIELDWORK
18. WEATHER QUESTIONS.
19. POWERPOINT LESSONS
Some of the most detailed presentations I've seen are those produced by John Harris from Radley College, Oxford. They are highly illustrated and have lots of 'moving parts', and cover many topics related to A2 Meteorology. Pop HERE and have a look. They are part of the highly regarded METLINK INTERNATIONAL website. The presentations on the site (which also have accompanying PDF files) include information on the following areas:
AIR MASSES: Major air masses affecting Europe and their characteristics
(Atmosphere and Synoptic charts are under construction at the time of writing)
CLOUDS: What are clouds, how do they form and what forms do they take ?
DEPRESSIONS: What are they and how do they form ? Different types of fronts
HUMIDITY AND RAINFALL
TEMPERATURE AND RADIATION
TIME: LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE
For some of the best animations of GLOBAL CLIMATE go to the site of the UNIVERSITY OF OREGON. This is one of the best sites on the Internet for this area of study.
21. MODELLING THE ATMOSPHERE'S CIRCULATION
An idea of my colleague Mr. Nunnerley.
Take one A2 piece of paper, a red and blue marker pen, scissors, glue stick and reference images. A sheet of labels is handed out to each group, and the aim of the task is to produce a diagram to show the circulation of heat in the atmosphere as developed by Hadley and Ferrel: the TRICELLULAR MODEL. The LABELS (HERE THEY ARE) are also needed. Or you can go to your favourite generic textbook and produce your own.
One of the group's efforts. Picture by Mister P
22. INSOLATION: a guide..
23. Try the activities and information for 'AS' Atmosphere studies at the KING'S SCHOOL WORCESTER. Some good stuff here.
24. MOVING AIR
Some activities using the textbook "The Atmospheric System" by O'Hare and Sweeney, which we use along with a textbook by Musk to develop the ideas further than the framework provided by David Waugh.
This includes an exercise in constructing ISOBARS. There are various sites which give guides on this: try an appropriate search to find them. There is one produced by MANCHESTER METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY as part of a Key Stage 3 teaching pack on the Weather.
Try 'drawing isobars exercise' to find a few more. GO HERE for an example that I found (most are USA based...)
Or try this SPIRAL exercise for kinaesthetic learners. More at the QCA site.
25. GLOBAL DIMMING
This was something that came to my attention after a Guardian article was published on the topic in December 2003. Apparently the earth is receiving less insolation than before, due to the effect of humans. I'll add some more on this intriguing topic when I get the chance.
There was also a HORIZON programme on this shown more recently in January 2005.
Go to the BBC's SCIENCE and NATURE page for more on the programme, including a transcript.
This SHOCKWAVE interactive exercise was posted by a FINNISH contributor as part of the EU's CELEBRATE project, and looks at weather data of HELSINKI. You follow the tasks and make choices by clicking on areas of the screen to explore CLIMATE GRAPHS. Give it a go and see what you think. There are others ideas from the CELEBRATE project elsewhere
27. HURRICANE KATRINA
28. HEATWAVE OF SUMMER 2003.
29. HEAT ENERGY BUDGET WEBSITES
Thanks to Dr. Peter Atkins for an article in 'Geography Review' which listed a range of useful sites. Here are the best of the bunch...
http://www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/eae/ - Encyclopaedia of the Atmospheric Environment
http://www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/resources.html - series of Fact Sheets
30. TABOO CARDS
Produced by Victoria (LittleMiss) from SLN FORUM
Download them and make some of your own... (Word Document)
31. The Met Office have made a FREE DVD available - all you need to do is send an e-mail via the Met Ofice website. This is recommended. I have made a worksheet with some questions for each of the video clips.
Download the associated worksheet HERE.
The run up to Christmas 2006 was very foggy in many parts of the country.
The fog arrived on Monday the 18th of December and persisted for a week.
I drove through it on several of the nights and it was a bit dodgy. Also saw some very dodgy driving on the coast road to Hunstanton.
Added some FOG links relating to work we'll do in the first week of January. Will be left with this work during my absence as a research task.
Download the RESEARCH TASK
Also posted about this on GEOGRAPHYJAZZ.
33. ANIMATIONS on large scale atmospheric circulation such as Jet Streams - a useful link
34. THE (First ?) GREAT STORM OF 2007
The worst storm since 1989 (remember the Great Storm of 1987 too...)
This has apparently been given the name KYRILL by German meteorologists, in the same way that Hurricanes are named. Is this a trend that might become common if storms of this nature become more common events in the future ? Any suggestions for names from A - Z that could be used ?
I related it to a past question, and suggested that students put the words "mid latitude depressions" into Google. This will give you a page of returns with GeographyPages fourth - check out the PDF in 2nd place, from the Wycombe High School site. This uses the following 5 areas which can be referred to when considering the impacts: both positive and negative
ENERGY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
RECREATION AND TOURISM
37. WEATHER OBSERVATION, MEASUREMENT AND RECORDING
We discussed how long term observations of the weather in an area can lead into the development of the generalisation called CLIMATE. We also discussed the development of MICROCLIMATES.
Weather observations: the MET OFFICE offer a range of online and print resources to support OBSERVERS.
Voluntary Weather Stations Met Office article
Coming soon: some of Mr. Dolan's resources
38. SLIDESHARE on METEOROLOGY
This was produced by 'virtual' colleague Ollie Bray who teaches up in Scotland - hosted on Slideshare - good revision powerpoint
39: A2 METEOROLOGY WORKBOOK
Don't forget that you can work through the workbook that you were given at the start of the session on meteorology:
Has activities on: The Energy Budget, Adiabatic Processes, Convection, Orographic Processes, Cyclonic Depressions, Cold Environments and Precipitation in Temperate Environments
See Mr. Parkinson for more copies of this resource
41. New Sea Ice animations - check out the amount of sea ice compared to the normal
Thanks to Mr. Stone for passing on details of this site
The animations from this site.
Links to 2 BBC NEWS articles from September 2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6995999.stm - opening of NW passage
42. THE GREAT STORM OF 1987
We use a pack published by Philip Allan Updates: Geography Review AS/A-Level Resource Pack called "Weather and Climate" - has some useful resources which are timed, and can be handed out as lessons. The one gripe is that the answers are not included, or at least suggested ones. This just adds to the time taken to prepare the material and anticipate questions and reduces their usability as far as I am concerned. Having said that. the activities make the students think, and they have to use the materials they are provided with in some depth in order to 'find' the answers.
Well done to James Screen, a former pupil for winning the John Connell Memorial Prize for his work into the role of aircraft contrails in enhancing GLOBAL WARMING. He's now doing research at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia ( I popped in to see him a while back...)
The importance of Contrails
Condensation trails from aircraft ("contrails") are an increasingly common sight over British skies, as civil air traffic continues to grow rapidly. These man-made clouds form when the extra water vapour in the engine exhausts is enough to kick-off cloud formation in air which would not otherwise form a cloud. Because of the large number of microscopic particles of soot and sulphuric acid also released by the engines, the cloud formed tends to have more droplets than a natural cirrus cloud, and so appears brighter and whiter. Making the atmosphere more cloudy more of the time can influence climate, by increasing reflection of sunlight away from the Earth's surface (a climate-cooling effect) and by trapping heat radiating upwards from the Earth and lower atmosphere (a climate-warming effect). Which effect dominates will depend on many factors, but one climate effect of contrails for which there is evidence is a reduction in the daily range of temperatures (i.e., warmer nights, cooler days). Research into contrails continues across the world using satellites, aircraft, and ground-based observations.
Was also interested to hear that another former pupil Lucy Verasamy, who was working for the PA Weather centre in London, has now been doing some weather presenting on the big screen at Sky News, and presenting various other weather reports such as the Ski report. Well done Lucy! Feel free to pay us a visit any time. Googling her name suggests that she has a lot of fans...
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