Following a Different Model: Interactive Case Studies in Synoptic Meteorology

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 9:15 AM
125AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Patrick S. Market, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

Historically, case studies in meteorological academia typically involved a significant weather event, copious data to sift through, and little structure for students' inquiry other than to determine why it rained/snowed/hailed/etc. Spurred originally by work at the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science and their efforts to make science case studies follow the more structured approach of medicine and law schools, the author has used such devices in many of his classrooms. In MU Synoptic Meteorology courses, the premise mentioned above is often unchanged (e.g., “Why did it rain?”) but the structure for students that has often been lacking is supplied and emphasized. Some case study experts use the phrase “storytelling” and that may well fit the structure being referred to here. Indeed, the human impacts of weather events (often the drama in a “story”) have never been so easy to document as they are now.

One such case study is examined in detail, where students examined a real case to determine 1) if heavy rainfall would occur, and 2) whether or not they would deploy observational assets to study the potentially dangerous event. In doing so, students were forced to embrace and apply synoptic and mesoscale analysis and forecasting techniques; determine the likely success of deploying grant-funded equipment, and; assess the safety considerations of sending scientific crews into harm's way.

This approach allows students significant opportunities to apply synoptic meteorology knowledge while gaining experience in forecasting and decision support.