Teaching Atmospheric Dynamics Via Data Assimilation: Results From Lecture and Lab at the University of Georgia

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
John A. Knox, University Of Georgia, Athens, GA

Undergraduate meteorology students often wonder about the relevance of atmospheric dynamics to their lives, especially if they are pursuing a career in weather forecasting. At the University of Georgia I have developed an Introduction to Data Assimilation course that interweaves atmospheric dynamics, mathematics, statistics, and weather forecasting even as it brings students to the cutting edge of numerical weather prediction. By teaching data assimilation chronologically, beginning with its origins in balance dynamics, I am able to cover many aspects of a typical "Dynamics II" course: balance approximations, wave modes, geostrophic adjustment, chaos theory, tropical vs. mid-latitude dynamics, and of course numerical modeling and prediction. Because these topics are tightly coupled to the overall objective of improving weather forecasting in this course, this teaching approach has the potential to engage undergraduates in ways that a traditional atmospheric dynamics curriculum may not. This course also includes a computer laboratory component using Matlab that explores different data assimilation topics and techniques interactively, which also differs from the typical atmospheric dynamics lab in terms of content, techniques and objectives. Experiences, results, evaluations and lessons learned from the first lecture+lab offering of this course (with 18 students) in Spring 2013 will be discussed.