16th Symposium on Education


Meteorology and oceanography come together in college courses

Robert H. Stewart, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

I will discuss how "Bridging the Studies of Weather and Climate" have influenced my teaching of undergraduate courses in oceanography and environmental science. The increasing importance of changing climate and weather patterns, and the increasing public interest in these problems, is leading to closer integration of meteorology and other earth-system sciences, especially oceanography. This has strongly influenced my teaching. I now include modules highlighting the connections among meteorology, oceanography, and earth-system science. In particular, I include modules on the influence of the ocean on global weather patterns (El Nino), the influence of the ocean on climate, especially global warming, and the influence of the ocean on transient events such as Hurricane Katrina of 2005. Although physical processes are important, I show that biological processes, such as the influence of marine phytoplankton on earth's carbon budget, are also important.

The modules are part of my i) physical oceanography course for undergraduates and graduates; ii) oceanography course for upper-division undergraduates, and iii) environmental geosciences course for incoming majors in environmental geoscience and environmental studies degrees.

In the coming year I will add modules on the influence of the ocean on drought in mid-continental areas of north America, including the influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Next I will add a module on the controversy surrounding the possible influence of global warming and sea-surface temperature of global hurricane statistics. Are hurricanes getting stronger or more frequent?

I find that these problems strongly motivate students to delve deeper into meteorology, physical oceanography, and environmental science. The problems are relevant to the students' lives, and they want to know more.

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Session 5, University Educational Initiatives III
Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 1:30 PM-3:00 PM, 206B

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