P1H.4 An Online Textbook for Tropical Meteorology

Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Palms ABCD (Wyndham Orlando Resort)
Wendy Schreiber-Abshire, UCAR/COMET, Boulder, CO; and A. Laing and J. L. Evans

The COMET Program is an established leader in providing multimedia education materials with an emphasis on mesoscale processes and phenomena. The rapid evolution of delivery technology for distance learning materials has enabled the COMET Program, under a multi-agency cooperative agreement, to develop cutting edge training in such a way that it not only serves our core sponsors, but also is freely available to both the academic and private sectors via the MetEd Website (http://www.meted.ucar.edu/). MetEd currently has over 400 hours of Web-based training in its continually expanding multimedia library with more than 30,000 registered users (~2800 new users per month) representing approximately 200 different countries.

The COMET staff produce a variety of distance-learning training options that include individual Web-based interactive modules with high-end graphics and animations, Webcasts (captured expert audio lectures), teletraining offerings, and online courses. Web-based materials are readily available on numerous topics covering new satellite applications, hydrometeorology, numerical weather prediction, climate variability, oceanography, and a large variety of mesoscale phenomenon. Other Web-based modules on MetEd include many other specialized topics such as an AMS award-winning highly-interactive hurricane preparedness module for middle school students, "Hurricane Strike!™".

In the past two decades, interest in tropical weather and climate has grown, in part, because of the widespread impact of tropical phenomena such as hurricanes, ENSO, land surface changes, and biomass burning. Within this period, our understanding of the tropical atmosphere and its interaction with the ocean and land has expanded greatly. Meanwhile, undergraduate education has been challenged by the lack of an appropriate tropical meteorology textbook. In a survey of tropical meteorology syllabi, it was found that most instructors are using a mixture of material (journal articles, chapters of various textbooks, Web pages, etc…).

In response to this need, the COMET program has launched a new online tropical meteorology textbook. Chapters will appear as they are completed at http://www.meted.ucar.edu/tropical/textbook/. This new Web-based tropical meteorology textbook covers fundamental science of the tropical atmosphere and synthesizes the tremendous increase in our knowledge of tropical meteorology during the past two decades. While the book is aimed at undergraduate students who have completed introductory meteorology and who know basic thermodynamic and dynamic meteorology, it is also a resource for early graduate students, professionals, and anyone interested in tropical weather and climate. Each chapter is reviewed for scientific accuracy and appropriateness of academic level by scientists and professors with expertise in diverse aspects of tropical meteorology before being made available online.

The book is divided into chapters, sections, sub-sections, and special focus sections. These may be covered in the recommended order or accessed directly from a menu. Completed and anticipated chapter topics for 2008 include, Tropical Remote Sensing Application, Tropical Cyclones, Distribution of Moisture and Precipitation, Tropical Variability, Observations, Analysis, and Prediction of Tropical Weather. A variety of methods and strategies are used to teach the content, including graphics and animations, interactive exercises, focus areas, case studies, review questions, and quizzes. Each section of a chapter has links to additional resources that augment the material. The book may be used as a traditional textbook in its printed form while sections of the online version may be used as laboratory exercises or for independent learning.

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